* Pantech has been under debt restructuring programme after
* Nine creditor banks own a combined 37 pct stake in Pantech
* Micromax declines to comment
(Adds comments from Micromax)
SEOUL, April 14 India's No.2 smartphone marker
Micromax Informatics Ltd has expressed interest in buying a
stake in South Korean peer Pantech Co Ltd as part of
its drive to expand overseas and go upmarket, two sources said
Pantech, South Korea's No.3 smartphone maker, has been under
a debt-restructuring programme after suffering six consecutive
quarters of losses due to fierce competition.
"Micromax told Pantech that it was interested in a stake in
the company," one of the sources said, declining to elaborate on
the size of a potential deal and other details.
Nine creditor banks own a combined 37 percent of Pantech,
while Qualcomm Inc has a 12 percent stake and Samsung
Electronics Co Ltd holds 10 percent.
"Micromax is among those who are interested in Pantech,"
another source said.
The two sources declined to be identified because of the
confidentiality of the sales process.
"Any matter such as partnership or acquisition is a subject
matter of approvals by the Micromax board of directors and
statutory rules and regulations. No such matter is currently
under consideration of the Micromax Informatics board," the
Indian company said in a statement, adding it would not comment
on market speculation.
High-end smartphone maker Pantech has struggled against
competition from giant rivals Samsung Electronics and LG
Electronics Inc in South Korea, where nearly 70
percent of mobile users have smartphones.
Pantech also sells phones in such markets as the United
States and Japan.
Micromax has brought smartphones to the masses in India's
price-sensitive market where basic handsets still dominate, with
heavy advertising and phones based on Google Inc's
Android software starting at $50 - almost half the price of a
comparable Samsung model.
Now the unlisted company backed by private equity firms TA
Associates and Sequoia Capital is trying to push into pricier
segments dominated by global brands and break into overseas
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Devidutta
Tripathy in NEW DELHI; Editing by Stephen Coates and Ron