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SK Telecom sells out of China Unicom

China and EU edge closer to end a long-standing telecoms dispute

South Korean carrier SK Telecom has sold its entire 3.8 per cent stake in China Unicom back to the Chinese firm after incurring a loss on the investment.

On Monday, SKT said it had sold its 899.7 million shares back to Unicom for approximately HK$10bn (€882m). The company did not comment on the loss it made on the investment.

But the move also comes in the wake of a deal between Spanish incumbent Telefónica and Unicom that will see each company invest $1bn in the other. The arrangement took Telefónica’s stake in Unicom to more than eight per cent, while the Chinese carrier owns roughly 0.9 per cent of Telefónica.

The two firms, which both operate fixed and mobile networks, have a combined customer base of 550 million, across China, Europe and Latin America. Telefonica had previously held a 5.4 per cent stake in China Netcom, which was merged with China Unicom under government mandate last year. Both WCDMA carriers, they have committed to co-operation in a number of areas, including infrastructure and handset procurement, wireless service platform development, enterprise solutions for large multinationals, general R&D, roaming, some unspecified strategic initiatives and an exchange programme for employees.

In related news, China Unicom said Monday that it will begin selling the Apple iPhone in October, marking the official launch of the iconic device in the world’s biggest mobile market. The carrier will officially launch its WCDMA 3G network next month, accompanied by a raft of new 3G devices.


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