SK Telecom launches solo bid for Hynix stake

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SK Telecom launches solo bid for Hynix stake

SK Telecom, Korea’s top mobile carrier, submitted a final bid yesterday for a 15 percent stake in Hynix Semiconductor, according to the creditors-turned-shareholders of the world’s second-largest manufacturer of computer memory chips.

The creditors of Hynix - led by Korea Exchange Bank - said they received a solo bid from SK Telecom after closing the final bid at 5 p.m. The stake is estimated to be worth around 1.5 trillion won ($1.3 billion).

Speculation has been building that SK Telecom might not join the final bid as prosecutors continue to probe embezzlement allegations involving the founding family of SK Group, the company’s parent group.

Prosecutors are currently looking into claims that SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and his younger brother embezzled nearly 100 billion won from subsidiaries.

Meanwhile, Hynix shares have surged in recent weeks while SK Telecom’s third-quarter operating profit plunged, leading observers to predict it would evaluate the bid as too costly.

SK Telecom’s decision yesterday to stay in the race came as relief to the creditors of Hynix as the high-profile deal has stumbled along a rocky road so far.

In November 2009, Hyosung, the sole bidder in the first attempt, withdrew its bid amid rumors that a government sweetener had been a part of its decision to throw its hat in the ring. In February 2010, the creditors attracted no bidders.

In September of this year, Korean shipbuilding and shipping conglomerate STX dropped its bid citing global uncertainties, such as the size of future investments, leaving SK Telecom as the sole contender.

By Kim Hyung-eun, Yonhap []

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