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Report: Lotte to complete hypermarket chain sale in China in H1

South Korean retailer Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd. is set to complete the sales of its Lotte Mart stores in China in the first half of 2018, Yonhap News Agency reported March 16.

Lotte expects to close the sales processes by June, since potential buyers have started on-site inspection of its stores across the country, according to the Yonhap report. Lotte also anticipates that it will use up the 700 billion South Korean won it has invested in the business by that time.

A Lotte Mart official told the news outlet that three to four companies, including Liqun Group Co. Ltd., are already conducting on-site inspections or are in the process of doing them.

The retailer has reportedly been considering its exit from China since September 2017, following a diplomatic rift between Seoul and Beijing over a U.S. anti-missile program, according to the Yonhap report.

Lotte reportedly was caught in the cross-hairs and was the target of retaliation from China for its involvement in a land-swap deal it signed with the South Korean government, which hosted the site for the U.S. missile system, according to the report.

As a result, Chinese authorities forced the closure of the majority of its Lotte Mart discount stores in China, leading to a loss in sales of 1.2 trillion won, according to the report.

Lotte has been seeking potential buyers for its business in China for several months, and several companies have expressed interest in the deal.

As of March 16, US$1 was equivalent to 1,068.43 South Korean won.