​South Korea's Pantech to halve workforce

After a dramatic rescue from debt last year, South Korea's third-largest smartphone maker is to commence another restructuring that will cut its workforce by half due to a failure to find new investors.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Pantech, South Korea's third-largest smartphone maker, will cut its workforce by nearly half due to a lack of new investors following its rescue last year.

The company was bought by fellow South Korean optical disk maker Optis and IT service firm Solid Technologies last year after struggling through a debt workout.

Pantech filed for court receivership -- South Korea's equivalent of Chapter 11 of the US -- in 2014 and escaped bankruptcy last October after 14 months of looking for a bidder.

In order to normalize it business, the firm was looking for new investors but has so far failed to do so.

It will cut its current 500 employees by nearly half. Those not directly involved in a new product that is slated for a June release will be asked to leave. Pantech previously fired 400 employees when the Optis-led consortium bought the firm in November last year.

A company spokesman said that the restructuring was avoidable as the company has not generated any new revenue since the acquisition.

The new product slated for June, however, will be launched as planned, he said.

The company also said it will rehire those it let go if its earnings improve after the product launch.

The company, once a venture legend in handsets in the early 2000s, has lost out to Samsung and LG in the lucrative smartphone arena due to its failure to export its goods outside of South Korea and a lack of marketing funds.

Its Vega-brand smartphones held its own against the Galaxy and G series until 2014.

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