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Lotte invests cumulative $4 bln in US

Lotte Group, South Korea's retail-to-chemicals conglomerate, has been accelerating its move to tap deeper into the United States, the world's largest economy, with its cumulative investments reaching some US$4 billion in production facilities and other areas, industry sources said Tuesday.

In its latest investment, Lotte Chemical Corp., the group's chemicals unit, completed the construction of the $3.1 billion ethylene plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Lotte owns an 88 percent stake in the project, with local partner Westlake Chemical Corp. investing in the remaining stake in the plant, which produces 1 million tons of ethylene annually.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin (Yonhap)
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin (Yonhap)

Lotte's investment in the plant marks the second largest by a South Korean company and helps elevate Lotte's standing in global ethylene output rankings to seventh.

The plant is one of the biggest investments made since US President Donald Trump took office in early 2017. Trump hailed Lotte's investment as a testament to the strength of the alliance between Seoul and Washington.

On Monday (US time), President Trump met with Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin at the White House to thank him for Lotte's massive investment there.

"Great to welcome Chairman Shin from Lotte Group to the WH," Trump tweeted, together with a photo of himself and Shin's delegation at the Oval Office.

Referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea, he added: "Great partners like ROK know the US economy is running stronger than ever!"

Lotte said the group may further expand investments in the US not only to promote economic ties between the two countries but also to share technology and know-how in a variety of business sectors.

Lotte's inroads into the US started in 2011 with the construction of an engineering plastics plant in Alabama. It advanced into the local duty-free shop business in Guam in 2013 and acquired the New York Palace Hotel in 2015. (Yonhap)