updated 04:35 pm EDT, Mon May 12, 2008
SK Denies Helio Virgin Buy
SK Telecom has no plans to merge Helio with Virgin Mobile to create a major new carrier, the Korean company says. SKT spokeswoman Mina Ryu rejects reports of discussions and claims there aren't "any sort of talks" to either merge its Helio brand with Virgin or else buy out Virgin directly. The rumors are "groundless," Ryu says.
However, the press contact also leaves SK Telecom's doors open for other deals and takes care to mention that it and Helio are "actively seeking" new chances to grow their cellular business in the US, which is limited to depending on purchased airtime from Sprint to offer its own services on a limited number of phones.
Multiple sources contradict the official brief and allegedly say SK Telecom is in the early stages of discussion with Virgin, though few details are available.
Helio is considered the next-most popular virtual carrier next to Virgin but has fought to stay afloat, with a combination of high-cost phone plans and relatively limited phone selection limiting the carrier's appeal compared to lower-cost options with Sprint or other more mainstream providers.