D'Live-CEO-Jeon-Yong-ju
D'Live CEO Jeon Yong-ju, left, speaks to customers. Courtesy of D'Live

Last week, the press release that LG Uplus had snapped up CJ HelloVision would have irritated many parties concerned _ especially competitors such as SK Telecom and KT.

But the owners of D’Live are probably happy with the deal because the prospects of it being bought now seem to be substantially better.

SK Telecom is Korea’s largest mobile carrier followed by runner-up KT and LG Uplus, the smallest player. CJ HelloVision is the country’s leading cable TV operator and D’Live is the No. 3.

In 2008, MBK Partners, a private equity fund, took over D’Live for 2.2 trillion won including 1.4 trillion won in debt but it has struggled to unload it for a decade as the pay-TV market languished here.

In 2016, SK Telecom tried to take over CJ HelloVision but the attempt was halted by the anti-trust authority, which worried about a monopolistic convergence situation.

In fact, MBK Partners had pinned its hopes on this because the sale of CJ HelloVision was expected to accelerate the trading-off of other cable TV operators such as D’Live.

But the anti-trust agency’s veto chilled the atmosphere and MBK Partners waited more than two years to see the new deal involving CJ HelloVision, which is expected to pave the way for the sale of D’Live.

D’Live’s top executive has already expressed hopes on the possibility of its sale.

At a forum held on Feb. 16 in Seoul, CEO Jeon Yong-ju said that discussions were underway for the sale of the company, according to the Maeil Business Daily, a local media outlet.

Through its affiliate SkyLife, KT advanced discussions over the purchase of D’Live,” Jeon said. “As far as I know, SK Telecom has also showed its interest to creditors.”

MBK Partners has chalked up handsome profits through years of high-profile investments. Recently, the business bellwether in Korea successfully exited Orange Life and Coway with a substantial payday.

The former is a mid-tier life insurer, which racks up solid incomes, while the latter is the country’s largest water purifier maker and rental firm.

MBK Partners is Korea’s largest private equity fund. Based in Seoul, it has expanded its operations in East Asia region including Japan and China.