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Pantech put up for open bidding after latest deal ruptures

Pantech Co., a defaulted South Korean smartphone maker currently under court protection, will be put up for an opening bidding again after the latest attempt to sell the firm to a U.S. consortium fell through, a Seoul court said Monday. 

The Seoul Central District Court has sought to sell the nation's No. 3 smartphone maker through an open bidding following the botched public tender in November that ended without a would-be buyer due to lack of interest.

Pantech was almost sold to a U.S.-based consortium led by One Value Asset Management, but that attempt also failed last week as the likeliest buyer didn't remit the payment on time. 

The resumed bidding will likely be the last opportunity for the struggling tech firm to salvage itself from its debt-ridden state, as analysts expect the court to start procedures for liquidation if the public bidding fails again.

The sale managers, Samjong KPMG LLC and KDB Securities Co., said via Pantech's website they will receive letters of intent from potential bidders until the deadline of 3 p.m. on April 17.

The price tag for the deal is estimated at 100 billion won ($91 million).

Pantech, established in 1991 by an ordinary company employee, had once grown into the second-largest smartphone maker in South Korea before it ended up on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 2000s due to weak sales amid tougher market competition.

In December 2011, it ended a five-year debt rescheduling program but a continued drop in sales led the firm to file for court receivership in August.

Samsung and Qualcomm each own more than 10 percent of the cash-strapped firm. (Yonhap)

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