SK Telecom Co looks for overseas expansion

SK Telecom Co, South Korea's top mobile carrier, challenged rumors about a possible acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA.

A source familiar with the matter said on Friday SK and Virgin Mobile USA are having preliminary talks on a deal. Recent blog reports have said talks have included scenarios such as SK Telecom buying Virgin Mobile USA and combining it with Helio, SK 's own U.S. mobile service.

"We are considering various scenarios and tapping opportunities," said Mina Ryu, an SK spokeswoman. "But there is no specific negotiation going on."

SK Telecom is looking to overseas markets such as China and the United States as expansion becomes more difficult at home where more than 90 percent of Koreans have a mobile phone.

In November last year, SK Telecom said it had approached Sprint Nextel Corp with several cooperation measures. Sources said Sprint Nextel had rejected a $5 billion investment by a group including SK.

Richard Branson's Virgin, which has been suffering from customer defections amid the U.S. economic slowdown, focuses on prepaid services where customers pay for calls in advance. It faces increased competition from big rivals such as AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless.