Lotte’s chairman opens pockets to boost image

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Lotte’s chairman opens pockets to boost image

Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin will donate 10 billion won ($8.8 million) of his personal assets to a new start-up accelerator in a desperate move to repair the group’s public image, which has been tarnished by the ongoing family feud.

The contribution will be part of the 100 billion won allocated for the tentatively named Lotte Accelerator before it officially launches early next year.

The retail giant explained that the accelerator integrates its support for start-ups that was sporadically offered through its different arms, including its department stores and duty-free shops.

“We won’t spare active investment in and innovative support for start-ups launched by the younger generation,” Shin said in a statement.

“We will continue studying various options to contribute to creating jobs for the youth and vitalize the creative economy.”

The accelerator will provide early funding for aspiring entrepreneurs and mobilize its infrastructure to foster over 100 quality start-ups - particularly in the fields of retail, service, tourism and culture - over the next three years under Lotte’s plan.

The announcement comes as Lotte grapples with growing anti-Lotte sentiment among Koreans stemming from its embarrassing public battle between the chairman and his older brother, Shin Dong-joo, over top leadership at the nation’s sixth-largest conglomerate.

Shin Dong-joo, the former vice chairman of Lotte Holdings, has launched legal action against his younger brother, claiming his control of Lotte Holdings is illegitimate.

Chairman Shin announced a month earlier that he would donate another 10 billion won to the Lotte Culture Foundation, bringing his personal spending to 20 billion won in just a month to fend off public attacks on the 48-year-old retailer.

The chairman is known to possess 2.78 trillion won worth of stocks, as well as real estate valued at around 2.3 billion won, according to Chaebul.com, a website specializing in information about Korea’s conglomerates.

Also underlying Shin’s move is Lotte’s intention to impress the state-controlled Korea Customs Service, which is set to renew the operational licenses of duty-free shops in Seoul and Busan. The conglomerate runs Korea’s largest duty-free shop at the Lotte Department Store in central Seoul and another at the Lotte World Mall in southern Seoul.

The licenses are set to expire at the end of this year.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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