Qualcomm ups stake in Pantech

US chipmaker Qualcomm will hold 13.49 percent of the South Korean handset maker's total shares after it converts its existing debt claims into equity, possibly making it the largest shareholder.

Qualcomm will be converting its existing royalty debts owed to it by Pantech into equity, thus increasing its stake in the South Korean smartphone maker.

Yonhap News Agency reported Monday that 52 million Pantech shares worth US$23 million will be bought up by Qualcomm with its overdue royalty claims. This will raise its existing shares in South Korea's No. 3 mobile phone maker from 11.46 percent to 13.49 percent, it noted.

Qualcomm had earlier converted another batch of debts worth US$75 million into equity, making it the second-largest shareholder in Pantech. The latest debt conversion should push it into first place, depending on the currency rate, the phone maker said.

State-run Korea Development Bank is currently top with a 13.39 percent shares ownership, the report said.

According to Yonhap, Pantech was put under a debt rescheduling program worth 1.28 trillion won (US$1.2 billion) in 2007. Its creditors decided to end the program in late 2012, it noted.

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