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(LEAD) SK Telecom solicits Samsung, Yahoo for Hulu bid: source

All Headlines 15:17 August 26, 2011

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout)
By Lee Youkyung

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. approached Samsung Electronics Co. and Yahoo! Inc. about a joint takeover of Hulu LLC before scrapping the plan, an industry source said Friday.

Earlier in the day, SK Telecom denied media reports that it may submit an offer for the U.S. online video streaming company.

"SK Telecom is not considering taking part in the takeover of U.S. video service firm Hulu and has no intention to take part in the acquisition," the company said in a regulatory filing.

But the mobile operator had reviewed the Hulu bid since February and invited Samsung and Yahoo to join its consortium, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Yahoo did not show an interest in the proposal from the Korean firm. SK Telecom had intended to hold at least a 50-percent stake in the consortium.

SK Telecom abandoned the plan to acquire Hulu mainly due to a high acquisition cost. SK Telecom was willing to spend as much as 1 trillion won (US$921 million) in the consortium.

Meanwhile, Samsung set up a task force within the company's TV business to study bidding for Hulu, the source said.

Samsung Electronics spokesman Kim Choon-gon denied that Samsung had been approached by SK Telecom. Kim called the claim that Samsung had a Hulu task force "groundless," adding that it will not bid for Hulu.

SK Telecom spokeswoman Lauren Kim did not return calls seeking comment. Yahoo Korea official Park Hae-dong declined to comment.

Founded in 2007, Hulu is a joint venture among NBC Universal, News Corp., the Walt Disney Company and Providence Equity Partners.

Hulu owners hope to fetch at least $2 billion from the sale and the deadline for initial bids is Saturday, Reuters reported, citing anonymous sources.

Yahoo, Google Inc., DirecTV and Amazon.com are among the parties preparing to submit a letter of intent, according to Reuters.

SK Telecom was initially attracted to the U.S. company's video content and its vast subscriber pool in the United States, after years of struggling to launch successful overseas businesses.

The mobile operator, which controls about half of South Korea's wireless market, submitted last month a letter of intent to buy a stake in Hynix Semiconductor Inc., the world's second-largest memory chipmaker.

Shares of SK Telecom closed at 144,500 won on the Seoul bourse, down 5.25 percent from Thursday's close.



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