Pantech’s financial woes continue: Korean firm now up for sale

One of South Korea's biggest smartphone manufacturers has been put up for sale after a series of financial difficulties.

Companies interested in purchasing Pantech, the country's third largest handset maker, will now have until 3:00 pm on 7 October to submit an offer.

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The firm's monetary woes first became evident back in February when it filed for its second debt restructuring programme. This was followed by a requested extension for repaying outstanding debt and then the decision to file for court receivership in August, the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

It is likely that the decision to sell was heavily influenced by the difference between the company's liquidating value and going concern value. Pantech's liquidating value is currently 189 billion Korean won (£110 million), while its going concern value is approximately double that at 382 billion won (£224 million).

According to industry analysts, there are a number of front-runners to acquire the ailing company. Korean network carrier SK Telecom is currently the favourite, but other major firms such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai are also believed to be interested.

A takeover by a foreign business also cannot be ruled out, particularly following rumours earlier in the year that the Indian firm Micromax was interested in purchasing a stake in Pantech. Chinese smartphone makers like Huawei and Lenovo could also be tempted to bid by the prospect of entering the Korean mobile market.

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Pantech has struggled since recording losses for six consecutive quarters in 2013 amid diminishing sales and intense competition in the smartphone market. Still, due to the difficulty of penetrating the South Korean market, particularly for foreign companies, the firm could prove a valuable acquisition.