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South Korea's FTC defers ruling on LG U+/CJ Hello, SK Broadband/t-broad deals

The Korea Fair Trade Commission postponed its ruling on LG U+'s proposed acquisition of a majority stake in cable TV operator CJ Hello, with antitrust officials saying they would revisit the agenda after reviewing a similar case, The Korea Herald reported.

The similar case refers to SK Broadband's merger with t-broad Holdings Co. Ltd. The deal, pegged to be worth US$4.1 billion, will see the broadband provider and cable TV operator merging to become a media company with around 8 million subscribers.

Following the FTC decision, SK Broadband parent SK Telecom Co. Ltd. made amendments to the transaction's timetable. The merger date was changed to March 1, 2020 from Jan. 1, 2020. The company cited "delay in the review process from relevant agencies" as the main reason for the postponement.

Announced in February, the LG U+ transaction will see the South Korean mobile carrier purchasing a 50% plus 1 share stake in CJ Hello from the target's parent, entertainment conglomerate CJ ENM CO. Ltd., for 800 billion South Korean won. An FTC official said the antitrust watchdog decided to defer its final decision on the deal after determining that there were "some issues" that needed further examining.

The transaction between LG U+ and CJ Hello received conditional approval from FTC in September, while the merger of SK Broadband and t-broad secured a similar approval earlier this month, according to a separate report by Korea JoongAng Daily.

As of Oct. 17, US$1 was equivalent to 1,178.7 South Korean won.