LG looking to beef up relationship with Apple after mobile biz exit

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Seoul, July 6 (BNA): LG Group, South Korea's fourth-largest conglomerate, is apparently looking to beef up its business relationship with Apple Inc., industry insiders said Tuesday, amid rumors that its electronics affiliate may sell the U.S. tech titan's products at its retail shops.

LG recently held a special promotion for iPhones, iPads and other Apple products on Lifecare, its online shopping mall for group employees, according to the sources. This was reportedly the first time that the group offered mobile devices from another smartphone manufacturer for its employee purchase program, according to South Korean News Agency (Yonhap).

The move came amid growing speculations that LG Electronics Inc. may sell Apple products to local consumers at its 400 stores nationwide following its departure from the mobile business.

In April, LG Electronics announced that it will withdraw from the smartphone business by July after years of losses.

Industry insiders said LG Group is looking to boost business ties with Apple for its future growth.

The group already has been providing electronics parts, including displays and camera modules, to Apple.

Recently, its electric vehicle (EV) parts joint venture with Magna International Inc., LG Magna e-Powertrain Co., has been linked with Apple's possible self-driving car development.

LG Uplus Corp., the group's telecommunications unit, also started to develop an office working system compatible with Apple iOS for employees using iPhones.

Following LG's exit from the mobile business, Apple has been trying to expand its presence in the South Korean smartphone market that is dominated by its archrival Samsung Electronics Co.

Apple recently launched a trade-in program in South Korea to woo consumers with LG smartphones. The program pays the trade-in value of a mobile device and an additional 150,000 won ($130) to those who replace their LG smartphones with iPhones.