Pantech Looking For A Buyer, Sale Could Shake Up South Korean Mobile Market

The Korean branch of ZDNet reports that device maker Pantech is currently looking for a buyer. The company and its creditors recently addressed the Seoul Central District Court with plans to sell and made a public announcement on Thursday. Companies that are interested in the smartphone maker will need to place a bid before 3pm on October 7.

The news shouldn't be surprising for those who have watched the company struggle over the last year. According to CNET, Pantech recorded loses for six consecutive quarters starting in 2013 thanks to fierce competition from the likes of Samsung and LG Electronics in South Korea.

The report goes on to reveal that Pantech filed for its second debt restructuring program back in February, followed by a deadline extension to pay its huge debt in July. Pantech then filed the equivalent to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in August.

There's now speculation that Korea's SK Telecom may be interested in Pantech as well as Hyundai Motor Group, LG Electronics and Samsung. There's also speculation that a foreign company may swoop in with a bid, such as China's Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei.

For example, back in April Reuters reported that India's second largest smartphone maker, Micromax Informatics Ltd, revealed that it had an interest in Pantech. Sources said that it was part of Micromax's attempt to expand overseas. There's a good chance this company will make a bid for Pantech before the October deadline.

Currently, Pantech is South Korea's third largest mobile device provider. There's additional speculation that the decision to sell may stem from the difference between Pantech's liquidating value, which is 189 billion Korean won ($180.1 million), and the company's going concern value, which is 382 billion won ($364 million).

South Korea's smartphone market is difficult to break into, hence the reason why a Pantech acquisition may be important for local device makers. Currently, 70 percent of South Korea's mobile-capable population have smartphones.

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  • mister g
    Darn. I remember my first smartphone was a Pantech Crossover, one of their first phones that were sold in the states. It wasn't bad, just old.