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Lotte chief embarks on 1st overseas trip to Vietnam after presidential pardon

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

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin will visit Vietnam next month on his first overseas trip after a presidential pardon granted last week lifted a legal hurdle that had limited his business activities in recent years. 

According to the group, Shin will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Lotte E&C’s construction of Eco Smart City complex in Thu Thiem, Ho Chi Minh, on Sept. 2. Some $900 million have been invested into the construction of the 60-story building on a 680,000-square-meter land for residential and commercial use.

Shin’s visit to Vietnam indicates a shift in the firm’s strategic focus from China. The South Korean retail giant has been seeking ways to expand its retail-to-construction business overseas, particularly after its withdrawal from China amid soured ties between Seoul and Beijing over diplomatic disputes.

Shin would also meet with high-level officials in Vietnam, including the country’s deputy prime minister who also oversees the economy. 

A total of 19 Lotte-affiliated companies run businesses in Vietnam, with more than 11,000 employees working there. 

Some of the group’s major ongoing projects in Vietnam include a 23-story shopping mall complex in Hanoi with a hotel and offices that is scheduled for opening in 2023. Lotte Group has also been supporting Korean startups to penetrate the Vietnamese market, as well as nurturing local startups, through Lotte Ventures Vietnam. 

In 1998, Lotte Group entered Vietnam by launching the Korean fast-food chain Lotteria there. In 2008, it opened its first Lotte Mart retail store and since then, the number has grown to a total of 15 Lotte Mart stores, two department stores, two hotels, two duty-free stores and 270 Lotteria venues.

Lotte Shopping held a board of directors’ meeting last month to decide to close its only Lotte Department Store left in Chengdu, China, withdrawing its department store business from the country. In 2018, the group shut down all Lotte Mart stores amid intensifying customer hostility toward South Korean businesses. The tensions were sparked by Seoul’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, on its soil five years ago. 

After entering the Chinese market in 2008, Lotte once had five department stores and 119 Lotte Mart stores there. 

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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