By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics said Wednesday that it will start selling its latest Galaxy S5 (S5) smartphone from April 11 as scheduled, denying speculation that it may release the new handset in Korea earlier.
"Samsung hasn't agreed with SK Telecom for an early release of our S5 to only SK Telecom customers," Samsung co-CEO and head of its mobile division Shin Jong-kyun told reporters after a weekly meeting of company CEOs at its main office in Seocho, southern Seoul.
Shin's remarks came after many newspapers reported that Samsung was discussing a March 27 release with Korea's largest mobile carrier.
SK is banned from signing up new customers for one month from April 11 as a punishment imposed by the telecom regulator for offering illegal subsidies.
After confirmation by Samsung, SK hurriedly cancelled a plan to release a statement notifying customers that the S5 would be available from March 27.
"As Samsung officially denied an early release of the S5, we cancelled a plan to distribute an official statement to reporters, though the statement had been confirmed by our top management," said a senior SK Telecom executive.
SK earlier pledged to stop giving subsidies that are prohibited by law as part of efforts to stabilize the local telecom market and improve customer service.
Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics memory chip head Kim Ki-nam said its plant in Xian, China will start operations from May this year.
The Xian plant is the single biggest overseas investment in China. Samsung is investing up to $7 billion in the plant, which is higher than its other chip plant in Austin, Texas.
"Our Xian plant will go online from May this year. Output will increase from the latter half," Kim told reporters. When asked about the division's first quarter performance, he said: "The first quarter is looking good."