Lotte Older Son Demands Job Back

David Lee, Feb. 12, 2016, 8:02 a.m.


The former vice president of Tokyo-based Lotte Holdings Co. on Friday called for a major reshuffle at the company to form new leadership, saying he will push for the listing of the company on the Tokyo bourse if he becomes the new chief.

Shin Dong-joo, the first son of 94-year-old Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho, said he will convene an emergency shareholders' meeting to push for the firing of the current board of directors at the de-facto holding firm of Lotte Group and re-elect new executives.

The 62-year-old has been mired in a succession battle with his younger brother, Dong-bin, after being stripped of his executive titles at three of Lotte's Japanese affiliates in early 2015. After a months-long succession feud, Shin's second son, Dong-bin, took control of the nation's fifth-largest conglomerate last year.

"I will push for the listing of Lotte Holdings on (the Japanese stock market) to make Lotte Group a global company," Shin said in a press conference held in Tokyo. "I will diversify funding sources and improve management transparency through the listing."

Although the elder son claims Lotte Group founder handpicked him as his successor, he faces an uphill battle to take control of the retail giant as he holds about 30 percent of Lotte Holdings. Without support from the employee shareholders, he cannot replace the current board of directors.

During the conference, Shin showed the video interviews with his father, in which he said his eldest son was chosen to take the helm of the conglomerate. In the video footage taken last month, the gaunt tycoon said: "Shin Dong-joo, my first son, should be my successor. It is the common practice for a family-owned group in Japan and Korea as well." His latest move comes after the founder appeared in a Seoul court hearing last week to prove that he still remains mentally sound, which has emerged as a critical factor in the bitter family feud between his two sons.

Since the hearing, Dong-joo released a series of video interviews to show him explaining his business philosophy and playing a Korean checkers game, seen as part of an effort to prove his mental capacity. Lotte Group chairman Dong-bin has claimed that his father is unable to make reasonable judgments due to mental health problems.

The founder and his family members have come under fire for exerting uncontrolled power over the retail giant with a meager stake, tarnishing the corporate image with the nasty succession brawl. Earlier this month, South Korea's antitrust watchdog said the founder and immediate family members of Lotte Group own just 2.4 percent of a stake in the businesses they run, which include food, leisure, construction and chemical businesses.

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