SK Telecom Co Ltd, KT Corporation and LG Uplus Corp, South Korea’s three big cell phone carriers, submitted their binding offers in the final round of bidding for Hyundai HCN Co Ltd on July 15 as they moved to expand their cable TV presence. 

However, sources said they may not all have the same levels of interest in acquiring Hyundai HCN, which has the fifth largest market share, because D’Live Co Ltd — the fourth biggest player — is also currently on the market.

KT appears to be targeting Hyundai HCN, while LG Uplus seems more interested in D’Live; SK Telecom seemingly has interest in both companies. Their intentions will become clearer once the preferred buyer for Hyundai HCN is announced, which is likely to happen as early as next week.

Many industry watchers view LG Uplus’ offer for Hyundai HCN as a tactical move, aimed at distracting rival suitors for D’Live. But KT, which approached D’Live much earlier than other investors, is now said to have a stronger interest in Hyundai HCN.

“Two smaller cable TV companies are up for sale around the same time, enabling the big three mobile carriers to weigh one company against another,” an industry insider said. “They have put the highest priority on information security to prevent their strategies being leaked.”

Hyundai HCN, founded in 1995, has a license to operate in eight service areas, including some key districts in Seoul and large regional cities like Busan and Daegu. The firm is said to be seeking a valuation of about 600 billion won ($509 million) based on its average value per user, which is one of the key metrics applied in cable TV. Credit Suisse is acting as deal manager. (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)