According to unconfirmed but reliable news, South Korea’s SK Telecom and the Arfeens Telecommunication Group of Pakistan have finalized a deal in which the South Korean player will acquire 70% stakes of the Instaphone (& Telecard?) along with management control. SK Telecom’s website states is global aspirations as:
SK Telecom revealed three key business areas to be concentrated on. These are the furtherance of our global reach by expanding internationally, developing the convergence of telecommunications and broadcasting, and searching for new business opportunities. With an aim toward becoming a major player in information communication under an economic umbrella that will be over all of East Asia, we are actively seeking multifaceted business opportunities in overseas markets.
Established in 1984, SK Telecom has a number of interesting networks under its belt including CDMA 2000, HSDPA etc. True to the uniqueness of South Korean market, the company offers a number of wired/wireless and application services. From Wikipedia:
The company’s current services include NATE, a wired and wireless integrated multi-Internet service, June, a multimedia service, MONETA, a financial service, Telematic service such as NATE Drive and even Digital Home service. In 2004, SK Telecom launched “Hanbyul,” the world’s first DMB satellite. The carrier currently provides satellite DMB to its subscribers through its subsidiary TU Media Corp. SK Telecom also offers a variety of internet services, many through its subsidiary SK Communications. Cyworld is one of the most popular blogging services in South Korea and NateOn is one of the most popular instant messengers.
The news further puts the number of new planned base stations to be erected by the revived company at 1500 ~ 1800.
In anticipation of a possible cash injection and to reduce time-to-service, Instaphone’s management had already finalized a hardware supply deal with Huawei for an all IP CDMA EvDO Rev.A earlier this year.
Arfeen Group manages three major voice and data brands in Pakistan (Instaphone, Telecard and Supernet) with Telecard’s being listed at the Karachi Stock Exchange. The group has been reportedly trying to strike expansion focused international telecommunication players but considered the management control to be most effective if it remained in the hands of the local minority stake holders. With a regulatory environment that has earned kudos in recent months for its consistency and neutrality and success stories of foreign managements (of Warid, Telenor etc), the demand of management control to the local minority partner was the major factor in not getting the previous deals closed.
The last un-taken group of Arfeens Telecom represent a power-house of telecommunication with all licenses tied to a single ownership flag – from the super-duper cellular to the mundane dialup ISP license.
The group has recently inducted new senior management that include Aamir Niazi as Vice Chairman. Aamir Niazi was associated with BOC Group for the past 18 years. A new CFO and a new CEO are being expected to be planted by the Koreans to give effect to the new ownership.