SEOUL, April 6 (Korea Bizwire) – Retail giant Lotte Group is seeking to sell more of its hotel unit’s stocks to retail and institutional investors in a move to improve its cobweb-like corporate governance, industry sources said Wednesday.
Hotel Lotte Co., the group’s hotel unit, has been preparing to go public on the Seoul bourse as part of the group’s reform measures after a succession feud between the Lotte founder’s two sons prompted calls to overhaul its murky governance structure.
Lotte has not yet revealed the size of its planned IPO price, but the company said earlier it will set the price band at an affordable level for individual investors.’
Industry sources said the price will not be too expensive compared to other Lotte affiliates because the offering is aimed at improving corporate transparency and brand image dented by family issues.
“The offering price is considered to be at around 100,000 won (US$86) to allow more retail investors to participate in the IPO,” said a company official at Lotte Group.
Depending on the size of stocks to be sold to investors and its value, its IPO price may range from 50,000 won and to 100,000 won, the sources said.
The proposed price of 100,000 won is much lower than share prices of other Lotte affiliates listed on the bourse, which hover over 2 million won and sit at the top level.
It is also below the offering price for Lotte Shopping Co., its key retail unit, which floated at 400,000 won in its 2006 market debut.
When Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin announced plans to list Hotel Lotte in August, its market value was estimated at up to 20 trillion won considering its booming duty-free business and the comparable valuations of its rivals.
However, the recent drop in the local market and its failure to renew the operational license for the duty-free store at Lotte World Tower in December was widely believed to have led to the deep cut in its market value.
Shares of Hotel Shilla Co., its smaller rival, also dipped in recent months after a wave of new duty-free shops have opened in downtown Seoul under the government’s policy to boost tourism.
Meanwhile, Lotte Group is expected to ratchet up its move toward mergers and acquisitions in overseas markets, with the proceeds from the stock sale estimated at between 3 trillion won and 4 trillion won.
“Some 2 trillion won will be earmarked for overseas M&As,” said an official at Lotte Group.’