Sprint, SK Telecom said to be in talks to form partnership

Deal would involve new wireless handsets and service, Journal reports

SK Telecom Co. and Sprint Nextel Corp. are reportedly talking about creating a partnership to develop new handsets and services.

The two sides aren't talking about an actual merger, however, and Seoul-based SK Telecom would only make a minority investment in Sprint, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Sprint would not discuss the report, and SK Telecom didn't respond to requests for comment.

In late 2007, Sprint turned down an offer of $5 billion from SK Telecom and Providence Equity Partners LLC.

Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint has nearly 53 million customers, making it the third-largest U.S. carrier.

Last month, Virgin Mobile USA Inc. agreed to acquire Helio LLC, a joint venture of SK Telecom and Internet service provider EarthLink Inc. in a stock deal valued at $39 million. As part of the deal, SK Telecom and EarthLink will be limited partners.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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