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KT Sells Debt Backed by Phone Bills as Smartphone Sales Rise

KT Corp., South Korea’s second-largest mobile phone operator, sold 443 billion won ($376 million) of bonds backed by phone bills this month as smartphone demand bolsters sales.

The sale follows the carrier’s first-ever offering of asset-backed securities, or ABS, worth 510 billion won in April, Chi Seung Hoon, a director for financing at KT, said in a phone interview on May 25. The Seongnam, South Korea-based company may sell more of the notes this year, he said.

The carrier joins South Korea’s two other mobile-phone carriers in selling ABS to capitalize on an increasing number of smartphone subscribers who pay the operators for their devices in monthly installments. SK Telecom Co. and LG Uplus Corp. along with KT sold a combined 4.8 trillion won of ABS this year, a fourfold jump from the same period a year ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

KT had 8.54 million smartphone subscribers as of the end of the first quarter, compared with 3.84 million a year ago, according to the company. The influx raised its operating costs 14 percent in the period.

The company sold $350 million of U.S. dollar-denominated debt in January. It has no plan to sell more global bonds this year, Chi said.

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