South Korea is home to two of the world’s most popular Android smartphone makers – Samsung and LG. But as Yoda once said, “there is another.” Pantech is South Korea’s third largest handset maker. The brand isn’t as well known as Samsung or LG but the company has enjoyed some success in its home country as well as in the USA after entering into a  debt rescheduling program in 2007. Pantech’s creditors have since freed the company from the debt rescheduling and now Samsung Electronics has decided to buy a 10 percent stake in the company. According to Samsung the $47.6 million deal will help “further solidify bilateral cooperation in smartphone and other business areas.” This cryptic comment from Samsung is connected with the fact that  last year Pantech purchased electronic parts worth over $200 million from Samsung.

Pantech recently joined the full HD bandwagon when it announced the Vega No.6 a 5.9 inch Android smartphone with a 1,920 x 1,080 IPS Pro LCD panel. Other features include a 13MP rear-facing camera and 4G support. The Snapdragon S4 Pro based device has been seen outside of South Korea but the company hasn’t been too vocal about a full international release.

The 10 percent stake doesn’t make Samsung the largest shareholder. As part of its debt restructuring Qualcomm previously converted Pantech’s royalty debts worth some $75 million into equity, making it the company’s second-largest shareholder behind the state-run Korea Development Bank, which each owns 11.96 percent.

What is strange about this deal is that now Samsung has invested in a rival handset maker which is also partly owned by a rival semi-conductor company. But this isn’t the first time that Samsung has made such an investment. In March the world’s largest smartphone maker invested in Sharp in March and agreed to spend around $112 million for a 3.08 percent stake in return for “greater access to its technology.”

Have you heard of Pantech? Now that Samsung is a stake holder would you be more interested in its phones?