S. Korea’s Lotte to sell some China stores after missile row

The missile defence row between Seoul and Beijing has seen dozens of Lotte stores close in China

Seoul (AFP) – South Korea’s retail giant Lotte Shopping will sell some of its Chinese stores to a local chain after suffering huge losses due to a diplomatic row with Beijing over a US missile defence system, it said Thursday.

Lotte has been targeted by Chinese authorities after the group provided land to the South Korean government to host the high-tech US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, whose deployment infuriated Beijing.

It has seen scores of its 120-plus outlets in China shut down, ostensibly over “safety issues”, with angry protesters holding demonstrations against it.

The Lotte crackdown was among a series of moves by Beijing seen as economic retaliation for the deployment of THAAD, including banning group tours to the South.

Lotte affiliate Lotte Shopping Holdings said it will sell 87.38 percent of its shares in its northern China unit to Wumei, the Chinese firm that operates the Wumart chain, for 240 billion won ($175 million).

The unit controls 21 Lotte shops in the Chinese capital. 

In the face of mounting losses in the world’s second-largest economy, Lotte said in September it would put its Chinese retail unit up for sale.