* New business will be split off as of October 1
* Wholly-owned unit to help expedite decision-making, SK Tel says
* SK Tel says not considering merger with SK Broadband (Add SK Telecom comments, background)
SEOUL, May 31 (Reuters) - South Korea’s top mobile operator SK Telecom said on Tuesday it would spin off its platform operation, which includes mobile content and applications, to bolster the growth of the new business.
The move comes as the seller of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S is struggling with stagnating sales in the nearly saturated domestic market, despite the rapid growth of smartphone users.
The operator’s platform division, which was created this year to nurture a new growth engine and is headed by co-CEO So Jin-woo, delivers content, applications and services along the lines of Apple iTunes and Google Maps.
It will be split from the company as of October 1, with the decision subject to final approvals from its board members and shareholders, SK said in a statement.
The unit, to be wholly owned by SK Telecom, will enable the company to quickly respond to market trends by expediting decision-making, SK Telecom said.
The carrier said it was not considering a merger with its fixed-line unit, SK Broadband .
Last week, SK Broadband said its parent firm was “considering various ways to enhance synergies with our company, but details have not been decided so far.” (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Miyoung Kim; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)