SKT to sell out of Unicom

Just two weeks after Spain’s Telefónica struck a share swap deal with China Unicom, SK Telecom has announced it will sell its 3.8% stake in the Chinese carrier.
The Korean telco said today it would sell the shareholding back to Unicom in a deal worth approximately €884 million. Under a share repurchase agreement, Unicom will pay HK$11.105 per share in cash, or 23% below the HK$14.36 Friday closing price.
SK Telecom said the decision “falls in line with our vision of becoming a global ICT leader.”
But the sale follows a deal between Unicom and Telefónica on September 6, in which each agreed to take a share in the other. Telefónica raised its stake to above 8%, while Unicom took an 0.88% piece of the Spanish firm – the first strategic investment by a Chinese carrier in a foreign counterpart.
SKT’s decision shows once more the difficulties for foreign operators in gaining entry to the mainland telecom market. Vodafone has held a small stake – now 2.5% - of China Mobile for seven years, with little to show for it.
The Unicom-Telefónica arrangement appears to be more about global opportunities, with the two carriers boasting a combined subs base of 550 million.