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By Reuters

EarthLink, the No. 4 U.S. Internet service provider, plans to announce a $400 million joint venture with South Korea’s SK Telecom to offer mobile services in the United States, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

EarthLink will sell phone services using the networks of Sprint and Verizon Wireless, while SK Telecom will be a technical partner in the venture, the paper said, quoting an executive close to the deal.

EarthLink and SK Telecom, South Korea’s top mobile operator, will each contribute $200 million to the deal, the report said.

SK, which reported a quarterly profit fall earlier Wednesday, declined to confirm the report. It said the issue will be discussed at a conference call with analysts at 1100 GMT.

The company has sought overseas expansion opportunities, as growth in Asia’s third-largest mobile market has slowed, with three out of every four people having a mobile phone.

Shares of SK closed down 2.4 percent at 185,500 won ($179), hit by an unexpectedly large 20 percent fall in quarterly profits.

Story Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.