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Lotte Shopping picks Goldman to manage sales of supermarkets in China

[SEOUL] South Korea's Lotte Shopping has picked Goldman Sachs to manage the sale of its supermarkets in China, after most of them were shut down amid political tensions between the two countries.

It has not been decided whether the retailer will sell all its China supermarkets or part of them, a Lotte official said.

Of Lotte's 99 Mart stores in China, 74 were shut down by fire authorities over safety violations such as boxes blocking exit doors. Another 13 stores were shut down because of difficult business conditions.

China has pressured South Korean businesses via boycotts and bans since Seoul decided last year to deploy a US-made missile defence system as a deterrent to nuclear-armed North Korea. Beijing says the system's radar can penetrate far into its territory.

Lotte Group, South Korea's No 5 conglomerate, has been among the hardest hit companies after it handed over land in southern South Korea so the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system could be installed there.

Lotte has injected a total of 70 billion won (S$83.62 million) into Mart stores in China to support the loss-making operations.

Lotte Shopping previously said it was considering selling its supermarkets in China and other options should political tensions between the countries continue next year.

Seoul deployed four more Thaad launchers last week, just days after Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test.

Lotte Shopping shares closed down two per cent prior to the news, versus the wider market that was up 0.7 per cent.