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3 telcos racing to buy cable TV operator

Consumer Electronics 10:37 May 27, 2020

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three major telecommunications firms have all submitted initial bids to acquire Hyundai HCN Co., the country's fifth-largest cable TV operator, as they aim to boost their media and content businesses, industry sources said Wednesday.

The three -- KT Corp., SK Telecom Co. and LG Uplus Corp. -- have all joined the preliminary bidding for Hyundai HCN, an affiliate of retail giant Hyundai Department Store Group. KT reportedly entered the bid through its digital satellite broadcasting affiliate KT Skylife Co., according to sources.

The winning bidder can get a notable boost in its presence in the pay TV market.

According to data from the country's ICT ministry, Hyundai HCN's share in the local pay TV market stood at 3.95 percent with 1.33 million subscribers in 2019.

The three telecom operators are expected to make their final bids after due diligence.

This image created by Yonhap News TV shows the corporate logo of South Korea's three major companies in the pay TV market. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Industry observers predicted that the takeover deal of Hyundai HCN could fetch around 400 billion won (US$324 million).

Last year, Hyundai HCN posted sales of 292.9 billion won and racked up an operating profit of 40.8 billion won.

Including shares of its affiliates, KT was the leader in the pay TV market with 31.52 percent, followed by LG Uplus with 24.91 percent and SK Telecom with 24.17 percent.

LG Uplus and SK Telecom recently bulked up in the pay TV market by acquiring the country's leading cable TV operators.

Last year, LG Uplus took over the country's largest cable TV firm CJ Hello Co., now named LG HelloVision Corp., while SK Telecom saw its affiliate SK Broadband Co. merge with the No. 2 cable TV service provider t-broad Co. earlier this year.

Industry insiders expect local telecom companies will continue try to acquire other major cable TV operators, including D'Live Co. and Central Multi Broadcasting (CMB) Co., to beef up their media business.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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