Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

SK Telecom and Sprint

I am a few days late on this. Strange how a few days seems so old when it comes to news as stories are like a movie these days, shifting from scene to scene--except with different contexts and actors. For some background on how US writers are looking at the potential deal, here are some comments:

From Engadget:

Some particularly juicy rumors die hard, and this one certainly qualifies:
CNBC is reporting that SK Telecom is looking to hook up with some private equity
firms to buy out Sprint Nextel, though a deal is "not imminent." This one's been making
the rounds since last year
, though it's possible that SKT sees some new
impetus for making a break into the US market now that it's sold
off its share in Helio
-- and buying the third largest carrier in the
country would certainly qualify as "making a break." It's claimed that SKT's
only interested in completing a friendly deal -- no crazy hostile takeovers here
-- and some of Sprint's board members aren't keen on the idea at this point, so
it's definitely a hit-or-miss proposition. If this all means we can get even
half of Korea's domestic hardware on US airwaves, then hey, no complaints on
this end.Update: The Wall Street Journal is
now suggesting
that Sprint and SKT are investigating some sort of joint
venture -- not a full-on acquisition -- that would see the lovebirds work
together on handsets and services. Possible, but we're curious to know what
exactly Sprint brings to the table in that equation.

Reuters:

Market negative on Sprint-SK Telecom talks

Wall Street Journal Blog:

SK Telecom Should Hang Up on Sprint
Posted by Deal Journal
Surely, there are better places for SK Telecom to put its money than a troubled American wireless company.
Sprint Nextel isn’t just operating in a saturated and highly competitive market. It is struggling in that market.
And SK doesn’t bring much to the table that can help Sprint, other than a pile of cash. The Korean company doesn’t have any particular restructuring know-how, and while it could help develop new services and handsets, Sprint already has a wide range of partners that can do the same.

FT Alphaville (part of Financial Times)


SK Telecom is in talks with Sprint Nextel, the struggling US mobile network operator, over potential deals that could range from SK taking an equity stake in the company to an all-out, private equity-backed acquisition. The
talks are highly preliminary, people close to the situation said. However, any full-scale takeover by a foreign buyer would likely face close scrutiny by regulators over concerns about national security. A more probable scenario, therefore, could be a deal through which a foreign buyer would take a minority equity stake in Sprint.


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