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LG Uplus drops bid to buy Groupon's Ticket Monster stake

LG Uplus Inc., South Korea's smallest mobile carrier, backed out Wednesday from the stake sale of U.S. Groupon Inc.'s wholly-owned local daily deal firm Ticket Monster Inc., just days before the final bidder is slated to be announced. 

"(We have) made a final decision not to take part in the ongoing stake sale of Ticket Monster," the company said in a regulatory filing. 

LG Uplus officials declined to comment further on the matter, but said the firm "is always open to mergers and acquisitions and is looking to go ahead with other deals in the future."

Earlier this month, the mobile carrier had been chosen as one of four viable candidates to purchase a stake in the e-commerce company, commonly known as TMON here, from Groupon.

 Although industry watchers had earlier expected Groupon to expand business in Asia via the Seoul-based company, the U.S. online coupon giant began searching for alternative measures in October, less than a year after buying it for $260 million in late 2013. 

Local media have reported that Groupon may either offload a partial or controlling stake to the bidder, with rumors that the U.S. firm is considering pulling out of the South Korean market.

Groupon has denied such plans. 

Ticket Monster logged an annual operating loss of 70.8 billion won ($65.3 million) in 2013, with 114.9 billion won in sales, facing difficulty under growing competition against two local rivals -- Coupang and WeMakePrice.

 As of the end of 2014, the e-commerce market in South Korea is estimated to have grown to a size worth around 3.4 trillion won, according to market data. (Yonhap)

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