SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- Three investors offered bids Friday to buy Pantech Co., the cash-strapped South Korean handset maker currently under court protection, industry sources said, reviving hopes that the long-pending sale would soon resume after previous attempts failed due to a lack of interest.

The names of the three investors were not immediately known, although one of them is said to be U.S.-based and two others are from the home front, according to the sources.

This is the second public bidding for the defaulted tech company since it went under court receivership in August last year. The first open bidding was held in November but fell through as there were no buyers.

The court then sought to sell Pantech in a private deal after a U.S.-based consortium expressed interest in taking over the company early this year. But that attempt also failed because the likeliest buyer didn't remit the payment on time.

The price tag for the deal is estimated at 100 billion won (US$92.4 million).

The resumed bidding is expected to be the last opportunity for the struggling handset maker to salvage itself from its debt-mired state. Analysts have predicted that the court will likely start procedures for liquidation if the public tender is botched up again this time.

The Seoul Central District Court will allow the three potential buyers to conduct due diligence, and a final bidding will take place to pick the preferred bidder for the deal, it said.

Pantech started out as a small pager manufacturer, and after early success as a handset maker it went under in 2007 as debts increased and its acquisition of a local handset maker resulted in losses.

The company was rescued and put under a five-year debt rescheduling program in 2007. But its financial footing weakened again as it struggled with falling sales from increased competition in the smartphone market dominated by giants like Samsung Electronics and Apple Inc.

In December 2011, it ended a five-year debt rescheduling program but a continued drop in sales led the firm to file for court receivership in August last year.

Samsung and Qualcomm each own more than 10 percent of the ailing firm.

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