Lotte pledges aggressive investment in Vietnam and Southeast Asia

14, Feb. 2019

SEOUL -- Lotte, South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, will make its foray aggressively into Southeast Asia this year, trying to find new momentum after an upcoming summit between U.S. and North Korean leaders in Vietnam, a top group executive said.

After a turbulent period in 2018, Lotte stepped up its presence in Southeast Asia to make up for its failure in China that forced a strategic change in the group's overall business, reflecting a new initiative by group chairman Shin Dong-bin that followed his trip to Vietnam in December last year.

"We plan to expand overseas investment this year throughout Southeast Asia from Vietnam to Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar," Vice Chairman Hwang Gag-kyu of the group's holding company, Lotte Corp., told Aju News. Lotte officials said the group would seek "visible results" this year through aggressive investments in food, chemical, construction and other fields.

Hwang said the group would come more aggressively after the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi on February 27-28. "On the occasion of the U.S.-North Korea summit, we will accelerate our presence in Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries."

"We want to have quick success," said Hwang, who has played a key role in strategic planning and group-wide affairs, leading a collective management system during Shin's eight-month absence last year. "Taking a lesson from our failure in China, we are trying to succeed in new fields."

Lotte was forced to suspend investments in February last year when Shin was sentenced to two years and six months in prison on charges of bribing the jailed crony of South Korea's ousted ex-president Park Geun-hye. The group also became the prime target of China's trade retaliation for allowing US troops to set up a missile shield in its golf course.

Shin has shown his strong interest in Southeast Asia since an appeals court suspended his sentence in October last year.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's trip to Vietnam in March last year sparked a flurry to business cooperation between the two countries. Well before Moon's trip, Southeast Asian nations have replaced China as an emerging place favored by South Korean investors.