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Pantech to release mid-range smartphone in first half

All News 09:33 January 24, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- Pantech Co., a struggling South Korean handset maker, said Sunday it plans to release a new smartphone for the first time in two years in the first half of 2016, a move that will officially announce the return of the country's No. 3 handset maker.

The company said it plans to release a smartphone with a distinctive design that comes with essential features, rather than adopting state-of-the-art technologies that users do not really need.

"The budget-smartphone market is our opportunity," said Pantech President Moon Ji-uk. "There is a chance for us if we release a product that has not been made by top brands like Samsung and LG." Moon currently runs Pantech together with CEO Chung Joon.

The South Korean firm also plans to ship 200,000 units of the budget smartphone to Indonesia.

Pantech was placed under court receivership in August 2014 due to growing debt, but a local consortium acquired the firm for 49.6 billion won (US$41.3 million) in October last year, paving the way for its normalization.

The company has not launched new smartphone models since November 2014, when it showcased the Android-powered Vega Pop-up Note.

Pantech said it will outsource the manufacturing to other companies based in China or Vietnam. While industry watchers earlier expected the company will build a new factory in Indonesia, Pantech ruled out such an option.

"While we can consider making a factory in Indonesia through a joint venture, we do not plan to build one directly," Moon added.

The company also aims to release a smartwatch by the end of this year. Pantech made a test version of the Vega Watch in 2013, but the device was never officially released for sales.

Pantech said earlier this month it is aiming to generate sales in earnest starting in the second half of this year, return to profits starting in 2017 and generate sales of 1.5 trillion won a year later, with its operating profit reaching 75 billion won.

colin@yna.co.kr
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