Duel of Lotte brothers continues on

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Duel of Lotte brothers continues on

Amid a power shift underway at Lotte Group, Shin Dong-bin, the second son of the group’s founder and chairman of Lotte Group in Korea, said on Thursday that Takayuki Tsukuda, president of Lotte Holdings in Japan, will temporarily take on the duties of Shin Dong-joo, the eldest son who was stripped of his positions at Lotte Group in Japan.

The second son was interviewed at an event Thursday in which he showed Lotte World Mall in Jamsil to foreign ambassadors and other delegates.

“Takayuki Tsukuda is going to be in charge of the Japanese unit of Lotte Group for the time being,” Shin told reporters.

When asked whether he will possibly succeed his brother, he answered, “No decision has been made.”

It was widely assumed that Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho preferred a split leadership in which the eldest son managed the group’s operations in Japan and the second son was in charge of Lotte’s businesses in Korea.

But a series of announcements and news reports showed the assumption to be wrong, or that something had changed.

The de facto holding company of Lotte Group, Lotte Holdings in Japan, announced earlier this month that Shin Dong-joo was dismissed as a board member. The decision was made during a shareholders’ meeting.

Dong-joo also lost his positions at three other affiliates of Lotte Group. He was previously the vice chairman and CEO of Lotte International, vice chairman of Lotte Co., a confectionery affiliate in Japan, and had an executive post at Lotte Ice Cream.

The dismissed son came back to Korea while the younger son went on a trip to Japan last week.

Tracking the two brothers’ every step, media outlets raised the possibility that Dong-bin will take over the Japanese operations.

While there has been no official statement as to why the eldest son was dismissed, Japanese newspapers including the Sankei Shimbun cited a family feud and the founder’s disapproval of his oldest son.

“As the eldest brother is taken out of his position, the younger Shin should play a key role in managing the Japanese unit as well,” said an indutry source familiar with the matter.

Lotte founder Shin set up Lotte Group in 1948 in Japan. After 18 years, the group built Lotte Confectionery in Korea. Lotte’s headquarters is in Japan and the Korea business is technically a branch.

Lotte Holdings is a top shareholder of Lotte Hotel, which is at the top of a complex web of cross holdings.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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