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FTC chief hints at approval for LG Uplus acquisition of cable TV operator

All News 15:36 March 18, 2019

SEOUL, March 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's antitrust chief has hinted that the government may approve the acquisition of leading cable TV operator CJ Hello by LG Uplus Corp., South Korea's No. 3 mobile carrier.

Kim Sang-jo, head of the Fair Trade Commission (FTC), made the comments to reporters in Berlin last week, saying things have changed from three years ago.

In 2016, South Korea's top mobile carrier, SK Telecom Co., planned to acquire a controlling stake in CJ Hello, but the deal fell through due to regulatory hurdles.

The FTC did not approve SK Telecom's takeover of CJ Hello then, citing restricted competition in the sector. The antitrust regulator reviewed the acquisition by dividing the country's paid-TV market into 78 areas.

But the Korea Communications Commission, South Korea's communications regulator, has said it would give regional areas and the whole country equal weight in assessing competition situations in the country's TV market.

"Clearly, we are not in the same situation compared with that of three years ago," Kim said, adding that the antitrust regulator should respect a change of position by the Korea Communications Commission.

The corporate logo of LG Uplus Corp. (Yonhap)

The corporate logo of LG Uplus Corp. (Yonhap)

The board of directors of LG Uplus has approved the purchase of a 50 percent plus one share stake in CJ Hello from CJ ENM for 800 billion won (US$711 million). CJ ENM is a unit of food and entertainment conglomerate CJ.

The FTC has said it will scrutinize the acquisition, given its huge implications for the country's broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.

If CJ Hello's takeover is finalized, LG Uplus will become the nation's second-largest pay TV operator, with a 24.4 percent market share, up from its current fourth place.

LG Uplus said CJ Hello's acquisition is expected to raise its competitiveness in the pay TV market in the new era of 5G and vowed to develop various forms of content, such as augmented and virtual reality.


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