Confusion surrounds Ericsson's South Korea investment

Days after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's office issued a statement saying that Ericsson would invest $1.5 billion in the country over the next five years on LTE research and development, Ericsson and the president's office appear to be at odds over the specific financial details of the investment.

The presidential office, known as the Blue House, reiterated to Bloomberg that incoming Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg told officials at the Korea Communications Commission July 11 that the gear maker may invest between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in the country.

That declaration came after a Financial Times report citing Bjorn Allden, the president of Ericsson in Korea, who said that while the company would be investing in LTE technology in South Korea, it was "premature" to talk about a concrete dollar amount. Ericsson officials told the FT that the company's investment may reach $1.5 billion in the future, but that releasing such a figure now was highly speculative.

The confusion was still not cleared up when Ericsson talked to Bloomberg following the FT report. "The investment will start now and exact time and size are dependent on the progress in coming projects," Allden said in an e-mailed statement, according to Bloomberg. He said the company and the South Korean government were in full agreement on the investment plan. 

Ericsson plans to open a research and development center in South Korea and increase its staff in the country to around 1,000 workers, according to a July 12 Blue House statement. According to the FT, even the characterization of the center as a "research and development center" was off; Ericsson said it preferred to call it a "competence center."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this FT article

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