Virgin Mobile USA (NYSE: VM), a cellular telephone company, is now in talks with SK Telecom, a South Korean mobile telecommunications operator, about a “strategic partnership”.
No more details are disclosed, but there are such rumors that SK Telecom may buy Virgin Mobile or merge its US operations with the latter.
“Strategic talks” spurred Wednesday the value of Virgin Mobile shares, the latter increasing by 38% to $4.18 on volume of 1.1 million shares.
Virgin Mobile USA is a joint-venture between Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Sprint Nextel. Virgin Mobile USA uses Sprint's CDMA-based Personal Communications Service (PCS) network. Virgin Mobile USA began operating in the summer of 2002 and was one of the first companies in the United States to offer prepaid cellular service, and was the first prepaid-only provider.
SK Telecom is a provider of mobile service in Korea, with 50.5% of the market share as of 2008. Since being established on March 29, 1984 the company evolved from a first generation analogue cellular system, to second generation CDMA, then to the world's first third generation synchronized IMT-2000 cellular system. SK Telecom also became the world’s first to commercialize HSDPA in May, 2006.