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SKT makes moves in healthcare, gaming

South Korea's SK Telecom (SKT) went on the diversification trail and established two new joint ventures within the space of a week, one in healthcare and the other in gaming.

In what it called a "digital healthcare" JV, SKT hooked up with Newlake Alliance Management, a South Korean private equity firm, to create a new entity called Invites Healthcare.

SKT apparently decided to spin off its healthcare business unit – which now sits in the new JV – so it could more easily team up with partners that have "extensive experience in the field." The idea is to focus on providing ICT-based services and innovations that can improve people's health.

SCL Healthcare, a healthcare company in South Korea, is also slated – at some unspecified time – to become part of Invites Healthcare. Once SCL Healthcare gets its feet under the table, SKT reckoned Invites Healthcare will carry a value of around 100 billion Korean won ($83 million).


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When the ownership jigsaw finally slots together, SKT gets to be second-largest shareholder with a 43.4% stake. It was unclear how much equity Newlake Alliance Management or SCL Healthcare will hold. But if SKT is the second-largest shareholder with 43.4%, it means one of the other two shareholders will be left with a thin slice of the pie.

In typical South Korean entrepreneurial fashion, Invites Healthcare – to compensate for the comparatively small size of the domestic market – is looking at healthcare markets overseas through partnerships and collaborations. The starting point for expansion abroad is takeover of SKT's global healthcare partnerships in the Middle East and Asia.

Game on

In another flexing of muscles beyond South Korea's borders, SKT embarked on a regional gaming JV with operators in Singapore (Singtel) and Thailand (AIS) through Series A investment.

No financial details were disclosed – or even the name of the JV – but the investment (and the addition of AIS) was pitched as the "next step" in a partnership between SKT and Singtel following an earlier MoU between them to develop the region's gaming and esports ecosystem.

According to the press release, the JV benefits from "Singtel's deep regional knowledge, digital and telco assets; SK Telecom's expertise as a pioneer in Korean entertainment and gaming; and AIS' experience in esports and digital content."

The JV intends to partner with prominent international game developers in a bid to engage with the region's 800 million gamers.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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