KT chairman accused of trying to influence merger - Mobile World Live

KT chairman accused of trying to influence merger

13 JAN 2017

KT chairman Hwang Chang-gyu (pictured) faced accusations of asking South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) to reject a proposed merger of SK Telecom and CJ HelloVision in 2016, the Korea Times reported.

The allegation is another setback for Hwang, whose reputation was hit by suspicions over his involvement in the latest government scandal. He announced earlier this month he is looking to take a second three-year term as chairman.

KT, South Korea’s second largest mobile operator, released a statement denying the allegations.

South Korean media reported Hwang asked sources at Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential residence or Blue House) to halt the merger before he met with President Park in February 2016. KT allegedly received messages from the FKI and the senior presidential secretary’s office regarding preparations for the meeting and a request to submit a proposal, according to a special prosecution looking into the scandal involving Park and her confidants, the Korea Times said.

The country’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) last July rejected SKT’s bid to acquire the country’s largest cable TV company, CJ Hellovision, over concerns the merger would curb market competition. Yonhap news agency said it was rare for the FTC, which reviewed the case for more than six months, to reject a local company’s M&A efforts.

The Korea Communications Commission and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning still have to make a final decision on the bid based on the FTC’s opinion.

Although KT seemed to have no direct involvement in the latest scandal, the operator faces accusations of hiring an executive in charge of advertising who is close to Park’s confidant Choi Soon-sil, and of signing multiple advertising contracts with another close confidant of Choi, the Korea Times said.

Leading the 5G charge
Hwang was widely expected to lead KT for another three more years as its moves into the 5G era, with the company stating it will be the first to commercialise 5G in 2019, a year earlier than its previously stated target.

It said last month it will complete the construction of a trial 5G network in parts of the country by September 2017 to prepare for a pilot service of the high-speed technology at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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