NTT DoCoMo: No Comment on SK Telecom Stake Report

TOKYO (05/29/2000) - NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest mobile telecommunications carrier, this morning declined to comment on reports that it is in talks to acquire a 10 percent stake in SK Telecom Co. Ltd., the largest cellular carrier in South Korea.

The two companies are still in talks and a deal has yet to be agreed, reported both Dow Jones Newswires and Bloomberg.

NTT DoCoMo, which late last year stated an intention to expand outside of Japan through the purchase of stakes in overseas carriers, bought a 19 percent stake in Hong Kong's Hutchison Telephone Co. Ltd. in December last year and earlier this month agreed to pay 5 billion euros (US$4.5 billion) for a 15 percent stake in Dutch cellular carrier KPN Mobile NV. [See "NTT Unit Buys Stake in Dutch Carrier," May 10].

SK Telecom is currently working with NTT DoCoMo on trials of third-generation cellular technology. [See "South Korea to Trial 3G Mobile Network," Jan. 28].

The Japanese carrier is eyeing the launch of third-generation cellular services, which will enable data transmission at speeds as high as 2M bits per second, as an opportunity to expand overseas. The company hopes the large investment needed to build new networks will make overseas carriers more open to foreign equity stakes.

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