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South Korea's SK Telecom Seeks Stake in China Unicom
[June 08, 2006]

South Korea's SK Telecom Seeks Stake in China Unicom

By Kumar Amitav Chaliha
TMCnet Contributing Writer

Faced with a saturated domestic market, South Korean mobile phone maker SK Telecom is seeking to expand in markets elsewhere in Asia, especially in booming China.

SK Telecom is reportedly making plans to take a 10 percent stake in China Unicom, China’s second-largest mobile company. Some reports said it was willing to pay up to $1.1 billion for the China Unicom stake.

The reports indicated that the South Korean firm was on the verge of hiring advisers for the proposed deal. They quoted a banker in Seoul as saying, “SK Telecom is looking to make a deal this year - they have 50 people looking at a very large investment into China.”

Cindy Kang, a SK Telecom spokeswoman, said that the company was “continually looking for possibilities to enter the Chinese market,” but declined to comment on any investment in China Unicom, according to one newspaper report.

Besides SK Telecom, several other overseas firms were believed to have shown interest in China Unicom. These include Sprint (News - Alert) Nextel of the U.S. and Japan's KDDI Corp.


The firms were said to be interested also in buying China Unicom’s CDMA standard network. The CDMA line operates parallel to another network that uses GSM technology.

SK Telecom is South Korea’s number one mobile phone manufacturer. The firm was incorporated in March 1984. It provides cellular services, wireless Internet services, and online Internet and Internet access via CDMA networks. Through its subsidiary, SK Teletech, it also designs, markets and sells digital handsets under the brand name Sky. The company provides international calling services, multimedia services and a telematic service called NATE Drive, which offers drivers with real-time location and traffic information.

SK Telecom has nearly 20 million subscribers throughout South Korea.

China Unicom is organized into four business segments based on the various types of telecommunications services it provides: GSM business; CDMA business; data and Internet business, and long distance business. It operates in 30 provinces in China.

For additional information on SK Telecom and China Unicom, go to www.sktelecom.com and www.chinaunicom.com.hk/.

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Kumar Amitav Chaliha is a contributing writer for TMCnet.

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