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Korean smartphone also-ran Pantech goes up for sale

Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
September 26, 2014
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If we asked you to think about a (South) Korean tech company, it's highly likely that the names "Samsung" or "LG" would be the first to spring to mind. That's one of the reasons that Pantech, the country's third biggest manufacturer, is putting itself up for sale. Being sat behind two of the world's biggest smartphone outfits has hurt the comparatively small business, which has recorded losses for six consecutive quarters. According to ZDNet Korea, the company decided to put itself up for sale because it's worth a lot more as a going concern than it is being broken up and sold-off for scrap. Ouch.

As we reported a few years ago, Korea's mobile market is fiercely patriotic, with consumers opting for a homegrown handset around 90 percent of the time. CNET believes that mobile manufacturers from China and India could all buy the struggling business as an easy way into the country's highly valued, but closed-off market. Unfortunately, given that Pantech's biggest owners are Korea's state-owned bank, Samsung, and Qualcomm, it's not particularly likely that an outside rival would be given a fair shake. ZDNet Korea believes that the most likely buyer is national carrier SK Telecom, although whoever did make a splash would have to deal with Pantech's biggest issue: warehouse upon warehouse full of unsold smartphones.

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