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​Pantech suspends smartphone business

Pantech has put a halt to smartphone production and will commence further restructuring, which could end the business for good despite its dramatic recovery in 2015.

Pantech, Korea's third-largest handset maker, has suspended its smartphone business and will commence restructuring, a move that could see it end for good despite surviving a dramatic bankruptcy filing two years ago.

In an email to employees, Jung Jun, the chairman of Optis, the parent company of Pantech, said the company will halt production of smartphones and commence the restructuring. The company will retain its Internet of Things business and core divisions.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection back in 2014 and the court approved its revival plan after 14 months once being bought by compatriots Solid and Optis. Byun Yang-kyun, then chairman of Optis, previously said the firm would expand to Southeast Asia.

Last year in June, the company launched IM-100, its first smartphone in 20 months, which was generally well received in South Korea. But the phone failed to reach its target of 30,000 units, selling less than half of that.

Joint venture talks to expand in Vietnam have also yielded no result, though Pantech said it is still pursuing expansion there.

The company last year posted revenue of 51.4 billion won but a loss of 70.6 billion won.

Up to 2013, Pantech challenged the dominance of Samsung and LG in the local market, once becoming the runner-up behind the former, backed by its popular Vega brand. But bullish competition locally and a failure to expand globally eventually saw it lose out.

Compatriot LG Electronics is also falling behind with losses, which have since recovered slightly after the launch of the G6.