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Virgin Mobile Confirms Talks With SK Telecom

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Confirming recent media speculation, Virgin Mobile USA has announced that it is in "preliminary discussions" with South Korea's SK Telecom to explore possible strategic opportunities. Virgin Mobile USA said these discussions are in early stages, and there are no assurances that any transaction will result.

Virgin Mobile USA will have no further comment unless a definitive agreement is reached. Shares in Virgin Mobile - which is listed joint venture with Sprint Nextel - jumped by 30% on the announcement.

SK Telecom is the majority partner in another US based MVNO, Helio (along with Earthlink) - and it is presumed that the talks are based on a proposed merger of their respective US operations. Both MVNOs use the Sprint Nextel CDMA network, so a merger of assets would be easier to manage.

Virgin Mobile has about 5 million customers, compared with around 200,000 for Helio.

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