* SoftBank Corp.'s stock plunged nearly 15% below the company's initial public offering price for its Tokyo Stock Exchange debut, ending Dec. 19 at ¥1,282 per share. Shares of SoftBank Group Corp.'s Japanese mobile phone unit opened at ¥1,463 per share on Dec. 19, down from the ¥1,500 issue price. SoftBank Group raised about US$23.5 billion from the offering, making it Japan's biggest IPO.
* The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, or PIF, and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Co. expressed concerns over SoftBank Group's planned US$16 billion investment in coworking startup WeWork Cos. Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported. As WeWork is expected to lose approximately US$2 billion in 2018, PIF and Mubadala have reportedly questioned WeWork's business model, which could leave it exposed if the economy turns. The funds have instead advised SoftBank executives that they would prefer the SoftBank Vision Fund to focus on technology investments.
* Two new reports released Dec. 17 found that Russia-backed operations engaged in more expansive efforts to influence U.S. voters across a wider array of social media platforms than previously known.
* Japan Display Inc. is in talks with Chinese electronic parts maker O-film Tech Co. Ltd. for a possible tie-up, The Nikkei reports. The negotiations for an investment are still in the early stage.
* DWANGO Co. Ltd. set up a production studio for virtual YouTubers called lido. The studio is a joint venture with four other Japanese companies – animation studio Khara Inc., media companies Kadokawa Corp. and Asobisystem Co. Ltd., and entertainment company INCS toenter Co. Ltd.
* CJ ENM CO. Ltd. is acquiring a majority stake in Swedish film and TV rights distributor Eccho Rights AB as part of its strategy to expand its business in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America. Under the deal, Eccho Rights will continue to operate under its existing management and brand, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
* LG U+ was fined 67 million won for sending a promotional text to its customers who did not agree to the relevant terms, and for not providing records of personal usage information when requested by customers, Money Today reports.
* The Korea Communications Commission will implement a new policy to simplify the termination of bundled fixed-line services such as internet and IPTV, ET News reports. With the new policy to take effect in 2021, consumers switching to a different service provider will no longer have to make a separate termination request to the original service provider as the contract will be automatically terminated. The regulator will conduct a pilot program with select companies and services starting in July 2020.
* The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT will set up a testbed to help small and medium-sized companies trial and verify whether their 5G products comply with international standards, Financial News reports. The testbed will open for use in January 2019 and will provide performance testing, compliance testing and other consulting services.
CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN
* Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Futu Securities International (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd. is said to have confidentially filed for an IPO in the U.S. The Hong Kong-based online brokerage is reportedly looking to raise up to US$500 million in the offering at a US$2.5 billion valuation.
* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed bike-sharing startup ofo is considering applying for bankruptcy due to its "immense" cash flow problems, Financial Times (London) reports, citing ofo founder Dai Wei's letter to employees.
* SINA Corp.'s microblogging website Sina Weibo, video sharing platform Youku Tudou Inc. and micro-video site Yunjian reached a strategic partnership to build an ecosystem based on user-generated content, Jiemian reports. Under the tie-up, Weibo will be responsible for content promotion, Youku will manage content providers and Yunjian will build the distribution platform.
* Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd. filed for three trademarks hinting at a possible entry into the financial services sector. According to TechNode, the company applied for trademarks of an insurance product and two loan products.
* Chinese video-sharing and live-streaming app Kuaishou launched a feature allowing users to play video games within its app without downloading them separately, South China Morning Post reports. Currently, there is only one game available within the Tencent-backed platform.
* Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd. suspended its services in Taiwan, ET Today reports. The platform, launched in the country early this year, is awaiting court appeal results regarding its carpooling service, which the court has ruled to be an unlicensed business.
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* The Mumbai bench of India's National Company Law Tribunal cleared the merger of Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd.'s mobile businesses with Bharti Airtel Ltd. The deal, announced in October 2017, will see Airtel absorbing the consumer mobile segments of Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra in 19 telecom circles across India.
* India's telecom department rejected a proposal from Reliance Communications Ltd. to sell 122.4 MHz of spectrum to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. because it does not adhere to guidelines, The Economic Times (India) reported. The setback to RCom's plans reportedly came after Jio wrote to the department stating that it is not responsible for RCom's past spectrum dues. The duty to settle unpaid dues of the seller is incumbent on the buyer, according to norms of the Department of Telecommunications.
* Eros Now, Eros International PLC's over-the-top South Asian entertainment platform, launched a new short-form content platform called Eros Now Quickie. The platform features series with shorter episodes, ranging between 8 minutes and 10 minutes.
* Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, founder and executive chairman of Malaysian conglomerate Berjaya Corp. Bhd., revealed plans for some of its business units, The Sun Daily reports. Among them is the plan to have U Mobile Sdn Bhd listed in 2019 or 2020.
* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is considering shutting down the country's 2G network on Oct. 31, 2019, Prachachat reports. There are 5.2 million mobile numbers still operating on the 2G network.
* Thai content producer TV Direct PCL will have to delay its acquisition of Spring News Television Co. Ltd. until at least the end of January, 2019, Thairath reports. TV Direct said Spring News would have to settle its debts and become a cash company before it could be acquired.
* Indonesian state-owned data center company PT Sigma Cipta Caraka, or Telkomsigma, will build two new data centers in anticipation of higher adoption of cloud computing in the country, Indotelko reports. The new data centers will be in Cikarang and Sentul.
* The Malaysian government launched the Malaysia Creative Industry Exchange, a digital portal that serves as a one-stop online data center for the creative industry, containing information such as artist profiles, film data, and promotion and marketing content, according to The Star.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* U.S. private equity firm Strattam Capital LLC made a majority growth investment in Australian talent management software provider Acendre Pty. Ltd. The deal is expected to help boost Acendre's expansion in the U.S. and Australia, as well as assist it in further developing its cloud-based, software-as-a-service platform.
* News Corp. subsidiary REA Group Ltd., a provider of advertising services to the real estate industry in Australia and Asia, named Owen Wilson as CEO. Wilson, recently CFO of REA Group, will replace Tracey Fellows at the beginning of 2019.
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Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Wil Hathaway contributed to this report. The Daily Dose has an editorial deadline of 7 a.m. Hong Kong time. Some external links may require a subscription. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.