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Hotel Lotte could delay IPO until June: sources

Hotel Lotte, the lodgings and duty-free sales unit of Lotte Group, could postpone its market debut until June to increase its valuation before going public, market watchers said Wednesday.

Hotel Lotte initially planned to go public in May, but could delay its schedule by one month to cash in on the government’s decision to issue additional licenses for duty-free operators.

Hotel Lotte (Yonhap)
Hotel Lotte (Yonhap)

At the end of April, the Korea Customs Service is set to make an announcement as to whether it would issue new licenses -- a possible move that could save Lotte that lost its bid last year.

If Lotte gets the operation license for its duty-free store in Jamsil, southern Seoul, it will have a major impact on the firm’s valuation, the company said. Over 90 percent of its operating profit comes from the duty-free business.

In November last year, Lotte failed to renew the license for its outlet at Lotte World Tower in the affluent Gangnam region.

The store generated some 500 billion won ($433 million) in sales a year.

Lotte Group, however, denied the report, saying that the impact of securing the license is not a factor influencing its decision.

“The IPO will take place during the first half of the year as we’ve said. We are not sure how much impact the new issuance of operational license would have on Hotel Lotte as the government announced the plan quite recently,” an official at Lotte Group told The Korea Herald.

Earlier in the day, Yonhap News Agency reported that the firm is seeking to set the IPO price band at an affordable level of around 50,000 won to 100,000 won for individual investors by issuing new stocks.

“Details on the IPO including size and the price range have not been decided,” another Lotte official said.

Since last year, Hotel Lotte has been preparing to go public on the Seoul bourse as part of the group’s reform measures after a succession feud between the founder’s two sons prompted calls to overhaul its murky governance structure.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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