KT, Softbank open $40 mil fund


SEOUL -- KT Corp., South Korea's largest fixed-line operator, and Japan's Softbank will create a new media content fund, KT announced Thursday.

KT and Softbank will invest $40 million ($20 million each) in the fund, and said they could expand the fund to as much as $100 million later this year.

The KT-Softbank Media Fund will be managed by Softbank Ventures Korea and focus on financing educational and entertainment programming, along with securing content for IPTV.

KT has 91% of Korea's landline market and 45% of its broadband market, but market saturation and intense competition has the telco eyeing IPTV for future growth.

The telco has Korea's second-largest IPTV service, MegaTV, and said it intends on spending $1.3 billion to improve related infrastructure and buying content.

KT's biggest competitor, SK Telecom, earlier this year bought Hanaro Telecom, which operates the nation's largest IPTV service, HanaTV.

Both SK and KT have invested heavily in Korea's entertainment industry, each purchasing major film production companies, music distributors and talent management companies.

Softbank, Japan's third-largest mobile carrier, has invested significantly in Korean IT, software and other companies since 2000.