Hyundai Group, a South Korean family-run conglomerate, has joined a consortium to launch a new mobile carrier in the country, company and industry sources said Monday.
Hyundai affiliates such as Hyundai Securities Co. and Hyundai U&I will invest roughly 180 billion won (US$161 million) in the Internet Space Time (IST) consortium made up of small and medium businesses, the source said.
"Initially, the group's flagship company -- Hyundai Merchant Marines -- planned to take part in the consortium, but opted to stay out," an insider said. "The exact size of the investment may fluctuate depending on various factors."
The decision by Hyundai to join IST is expected to allow the consortium to submit a request for a formal business permit from the Korea and Communications Commission early next week, just before the Nov. 18 deadline.
Hyundai declined to confirm or deny it had joined IST.
"The company does not have any formal announcements to make on this matter," a spokesperson said.
Industry watchers, meanwhile, said that the size of Hyundai's investment will make it the No. 2 shareholder of IST after the special purpose company created by Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business.
They said that IST is expected to compete with the Korea Mobile Internet (KMI) consortium to become South Korea's fourth mobile carrier. KMI, is supported by the Dongbu Group, and officially requested a mobile service permit in August.
At present, the country has three mobile operators -- SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. (Yonhap News)