South Korean business conglomerate Lotte Group has announced that it is close to finalising a deal to acquire the credit card unit of Tong Yang Card Corp.

Lotte, which owns the largest department store in South Korea as well as Lotte Confectionery and the franchise to TGI Fridays, will be hoping to cash in on the rapid expansion of the credit card market in South Korea.

Use of credit cards in the country increased 66.4% in the first half of 2002 compared with a year earlier.  Lotte is keen to finalise the deal as soon as possible. The deal is expected to be worth around 183bn won (US$149.6m), although the final price has not been decided yet, reported Reuters News.