KT Corp, one of the largest South Korean telcos, is speeding up restructuring efforts as it tries to transform itself into a platform business, with sources reporting that several investment banks were recently approached for advice on strategic options.
The restructuring process began when Koo Hyun-mo took over as chief executive officer in March 2020. It appears that KT wants to incorporate opinions from external experts into its restructuring plans, industry watchers.
In January the company sold its entire stake in radio communications unit KT Powertel to IDIS, and it has announced plans to launch a media and content arm, KT Studio Genie. KT is also reportedly tapping several institutional investors, including pension funds and credit unions, to raise capital for affiliates such as K bank.
“KT approached us to take advice on industry trends and explore options for its businesses,” said an investment banking source. “We’ll see what decisions KT will make.”
The recent moves mark a notable change from its previous stance, characterized by slow decision-making. In the mergers and acquisitions market, KT is often considered to be lacking the decision-making ability to compete against more agile investors.
Some industry watchers are skeptical that KT will be able to strengthen its position in the market for platform-based services, because it already lags behind large rivals. In the meantime, the company is expected to focus on looking for external investors, as it needs capital to inject into core business areas.
“KT will likely step up efforts to find external investors because some of its key affiliates need a capital injection to compete in the market,” an industry insider said. “I believe KT needs to be on the same page as investors to be successful with that.” (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)