Pantech takeover bid approved

Debt-ridden Pantech is officially taken over by a consortium led by compatriot Optis after a court approved the merger.

The Seoul Central District Court approved South Korean optical disc drive (ODD) firm Optis' acquisition of Pantech, ending the handset maker's battle with debt and possible liquidation.

However, hedge fund EMP Asia, pulled out of the consortium while South Korean network equipment maker Solid took its place.

The consortium signed a tentative agreement last month and said that the deal will go through if no obstacle was found during a cross-review.

The Optis consortium and Pantech must now turn in a detailed plan of how to make the handset maker solvent again for review by the court.

Pantech has been in court receivership, the South Korean equivalent to the US Chapter 11 bankruptcy, since August last year due to mounting debts as it fell behind in the local market against Samsung and LG.

Optis was formed by an ex-Samsung electro-mechanics CEO in 2005, and manufactures components for ODDs. It acquired its Philippines counterpart Sephil in 2012.

Last year, it gained 49.9 percent share of Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology (TSST), an optical disk joint venture from Samsung and Toshiba. The company posted 599.9 billion won ($536 million) in revenue, and an operating profit of 15 billion won last year.

Pantech was founded in 1991 and has been praised as a startup success story in a country where the tech industry is dominated by old conglomerates.

In an interview, Optis Group chairman Byun Yang-kyun told ZDNet Korea that the firm plans to export Pantech handsets to Southeast Asia.