Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin on Monday met with group founder and general chairman Shin Kyuk-ho at Lotte Hotel in Seoul, fueling speculation that the “rebellious second son” is determined to mend ties with the infuriated father and placate the growing public anger about the irregular family feud at a major conglomerate.
“The meeting was on friendly terms, with a smile on the face and ice-breaking conversations about Dong-bin’s business trip,” a source said explaining the dramatic encounter of the father and son.
It is not yet known whether Dong-bin’s archrival and elder brother Shin Dong-joo was present. But because his elder sister Young-ja resides in the hotel and the elder Shin’s younger brother Sun-ho paid a visit to the hotel around the same time, the occasion may have developed into a brief family meeting, insiders said.
Shin Kyuk-ho on July 27 was dismissed from the presidency of Lotte Holdings, the de facto holding company of Lotte Group, a day after he attempted to sack Dong-bin for omitting reports and disobeying business orders. The angry father opened fire at his son, claiming that Dong-bin was long dismissed before he could conduct any business operations.
As Dong-joo vowed a full-fledged war at the Lotte Holding’s shareholders meeting sometime in the future, Dong-bin spent a week in Japan to win support from the Japanese shareholders. His aides earlier said that the younger brother had already gained some solid 60 percent of the legitimate votes but Dong-bin himself refused to provide the details.
Upon his return, Dong-bin made a public apology over the turmoil caused by him and family members, before he rode off to see his father.
“I am sorry to have created the stir,” he told reporters at Gimpo International Airport after returning from Japan, bowing deeply.
“But I still think the document (suggesting that my father has dismissed me from Lotte Holdings’ presidency before I fired him) has no legal binding,” he stuttered in Korean.
Seemingly agitated but equally determined, Dong-bin said that he will keep striving to contribute to the development of the national economy through leading Lotte. Still, he refused to discuss the details of the shareholding structure of the company nor the schedule of the possible shareholders meeting that will discern the future leadership of the company that encompasses Asia and the U.S.
Meanwhile, Dong-joo held a series of media interviews in Korea slamming his younger brother for losing the general chairman’s favor.
He showed confidence in the voting showdown. “Adding the votes of the Kojyunsya (major shareholder of Lotte Holdings, which is half owned by his father) and employees’ stocks, we are capable of removing all current executives from the boardroom,” he said during his interview with SBS.
“Then I will reinstate my father as the chairman of the board,” he added.
Dong-joo is reportedly supported by the rest of the Shin clan including Kyuk-ho, Young-ja, Sun-ho, his cousin Dong-in and others who also have shares in Lotte Korea. But one of the key figures in the family, his mother Hatsuko Shigemitsu, is reportedly sitting on the fence, calling for a truce.
“I spoke with mother on the phone,” Dong-bin told reporters.
On Monday, Dong-joo apparently canceled his trip to Tokyo, where he was expected to meet the Japanese shareholders.
By Bae Ji-sook(firstname.lastname@example.org