Lotte Group is considering offloading its stalled theme-park project in northeastern China for at least 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), according to people familiar with the matter.
South Korea’s largest operator of hotels, theme parks and duty-free stores is working with an adviser to gauge interest from potential investors, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is private.
Deliberations are ongoing and there’s no certainty they will result in a transaction, the people said, adding Lotte Group could even decide to keep the complex. A representative for Lotte Group declined to comment.
The conglomerate was planning to complete its “Lotte Town” project by 2019 in Shenyang, a city about 400 miles northeast of China’s capital, but hit a snag in the wake of a geopolitical conflict involving Beijing, Seoul and Washington. Lotte Group provided land to the South Korean government for the deployment of a US missile defense shield called Thaad, which China strongly opposed.
The theme-park project was halted following safety and tax inspections by the Chinese government, which ordered the suspension of the Shenyang project in December 2016. The complex was supposed to include shopping malls, a theme park, apartments and office buildings, with seven of Lotte’s units planning to invest about three trillion won ($2.5 billion).
Lotte Group was in discussions with Chinese officials to resume work on the project by the end of 2017, Bloomberg News reported.
However, anti-Korean sentiment in China led to a slump in sales, forcing Lotte Group to start retreating from the world’s second-largest economy. The retail giant has subsequently sold many of its assets in China.