Lotte Group appoints first female chief executive

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Lotte Group appoints first female chief executive


In its annual executive reshuffle on Wednesday, Lotte Group anointed Lotte Corporation’s chief executive with the title of vice president and appointed its first female CEO.

The nation’s fifth-largest conglomerate held a board of directors meeting to discuss senior positions across its 20 subsidiaries. About 170 were either promoted into or within the subsidiaries’ top ranks.

Hwang Kag-gyu, chief executive of Lotte Corporation, the group’s holding company, was promoted from president to vice chairman in recognition of his work leading the company’s corporate innovation office last year.

The team was at the center of Lotte Group’s reforms, spearheading major projects like the initial public offering of Lotte Corporation and reducing the amount of cross-shareholding among subsidiaries from 750,000 in 2014 to zero this year.

Both goals had been pushed by Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin since 2015 to increase transparency at the conglomerate.

Hwang, 62, entered Lotte through Honam Petrochemical, the predecessor of Lotte Chemical, in 1979 and led the group’s major acquisitions and global business plans from 1995. From 2014 until last year, he was in charge of the strategic planning office.

“Hwang is credited with having successfully established the ground stone for Lotte’s conversion to a holding company structure,” the group said in a statement.

Hwang’s additional title is seen as a symbolic move to stabilize the structure that Lotte built last year in which the conglomerate separated into holding and operating companies.

Lee Bong-chul, another contributor to the group’s corporate overhaul, was appointed president of Lotte Corporation.

Previously the head of Lotte Corporation’s finance division, Lee is well-versed in the group’s financial affairs and has been a core actor in resolving some of the major issues stemming from Lotte’s structural overhaul. He joined Lotte in 1986.

Among subsidiaries, Lotte Insurance CEO Kim Hyun-soo was also promoted to president. He joined Lotte in 1984 and has served as CEO at the insurance subsidiary since 2014.

Most notable on Wednesday’s promotion list was the appointment of a female CEO, the first in Lotte’s 50-year history.

Sun Woo-young will lead Lohb’s, Lotte’s health and beauty store chain.

Lotte Chairman Shin had pledged in 2015 “to see the rise of a female CEO in the Lotte group by 2020.”

Sun, 51, joined Hi-Mart in 1998 before it was acquired by Lotte. Her last position there was head of the electronics retailer’s online business, where she was noted for diversifying the company’s online sales channels.

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