Pantech has never been a huge brand here in the U.S. They have sold both dumbphones and smartphones here for years, but the company never really brought a compelling product to U.S. consumers. The Pantech phones sold in Asian markets don’t seem to be doing that well, either, as the founder and current Vice Chairman of Pantech, Park Byeong-yeop, has announced his resignation from the company.
Pantech is attempting to right a sinking ship. They reported a $46 million operating loss for the second quarter of 2013. Samsung recently invested almost $50 million in the company, but that seems to be merely extending the inevitable. Pantech has asked 800 employees to take a 6 month, voluntary, unpaid vacation in order to help offset overhead costs. That’s roughly 25% of the company’s total workforce. If things are not better at the end of the 6 month period, they plan on asking a different set of 800 employees to take the same unpaid time-off. While it’s tough for employees to take this type of extended vacation, it’s better than closing the company.
Pantech at one point was the third-largest phone manufacturer in South Korea, but fell on hard times after a debt restructuring in 2006. Since then, the company has seemed to struggle and has not been able to break out of that Asian market with any real presence.
Park Byeong-yeop started Pantech in 1991. He ran the company as Chairman until 2011, stepping down and then immediately coming back as Vice Chairman. Sources says that Park Byeong-yeop is also dealing with some health issues that may have played a part in his resignation. His health apparently took a turn for the worst after the company’s financial struggles began in 2006.
Unfortunately, this type of re-structuring is necessary for a company that is not making money. Oftentimes companies are able to turn things around and begin making money again. It’s never comfortable for them to tighten their belts and make cut backs, but we hope that Pantech pulls through. We would love to see them become a competitor in the Android market.