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Bharti Airtel to buy Tata mobile units; China eyes stakes in local tech giants


* India's Tata Group struck a deal to merge the consumer mobile businesses of its two telecom units into Bharti Airtel Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. The deal means Bharti Airtel will absorb the consumer mobile segments of Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd. in 19 service areas across India. The acquisition will include the businesses' customers, assets and spectrum in the 850, 1,800 and 2,100 MHz bands, totaling 178.5 MHz. The agreement also grants Bharti Airtel the right to use a portion of Tata's existing fiber network.

* Chinese regulators are looking to acquire stakes in tech companies such as Tencent Holdings Ltd., Weibo Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unit Youku Tudou Inc., The Wall Street Journal reports. A stake in said companies would allow the Chinese government to be directly involved in management decisions.


* KKR & Co. LP sweetened its bid for Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., a unit of Japanese tech giant Hitachi Ltd., to ¥2,900 per share from ¥2,503 amid pressure from U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., Reuters reports. Following the move, a regulatory filing showed that Elliott raised its holding in Hitachi Kokusai Electric to 8.59% from 7.11%, one of many hikes since it first revealed a stake in the firm in September.

* Toshiba America Electronics Components Inc., a unit of Toshiba Corp., announced it launched two new high-speed communication photocouplers — components that transfer electrical signals using light. The devices serve applications such as programmable logic controllers, photovoltaic inverters and factory automation inverters.

* SoftBank Group Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son told Bloomberg News in an interview that his troubled U.S. telco unit Sprint Corp. "has turned around" after recently reporting its first quarterly profit in years.

* Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan's largest financial group, aims for AI and software robots to take over 30% of operations at its core banking unit by 2024, the unit's CEO Kanetsugu Mike told Reuters. The automation strategy would free Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. bankers to meet the needs of wealthier clients.


* Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong and his lawyers faced an appellate court in South Korea to start the appeal of the executive's five-year jail sentence, Reuters reports. The defense is challenging the lower court's argument that Lee's actions "implied" asking for help from former South Korean President Park Geun-hye by providing financial support for entities controlled by her confidante Choi Soon-sil.

* A+E Networks channels History and Lifetime are extending their reach into South Korea, where the company revealed plans to produce local content, Digital TV Europe reports.

* KT Corp. had a successful field test of its 5G-SLT technology, which connects a car running at speeds over 100 kilometers per hour to 5G networks to transmit video data, at a real highway condition for the first time in the world, Digital Times reports. The technology combines KT's LTE capabilities with its subsidiary KT Skylife's satellite broadcasting to provide users with high-resolution video services regardless of speed.

* Kakao Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to sync its artificial intelligence platform Kakao I with the tech giant's home appliances, OSEN reports. Based on this partnership, users will be able to control gadgets at home via KakaoTalk messenger.

* Samsung Electronics will soon launch its ARTIK 051 internet of things platform in South Korea, ET News reports. The new version will be targeting corporate use and is likely to support a Wi-Fi function to utilize smart home appliances.

* Naver Corp. invested 7.5 billion South Korean won to social creator platform OGQ Corp., which operates a wallpaper app and runs a market for patented images, video and fonts, Money Today reports. With the investment, the South Korean internet company is planning to incorporate OGQ's content and creator base into its services.


* Tencent Holdings will sell insurance products on its messaging apps, WeChat and QQ, as the country's insurance regulator granted an operating license to Wemin Insurance Agency Co. Ltd., a new insurance company in which Tencent owns a 57.8% stake, Caixin reports.

* Qualcomm Inc. said it will appeal against Taiwan's decision to impose a fine worth NT$23.4 billion to the company for anti-competitive behavior.

* Alibaba's online payment platform Alipay launched an apartment rental service in selected major Chinese cities, Caixin reports.

* PayEase, a government-backed Chinese third-party online payment platform, will test cross-border practices. The move is urged by China's One Belt, One Road initiative, aiming to help Chinese companies selling services and products outside China.


* SoftBank-backed Flipkart will infuse US$500 million in PhonePe to expand the operations of its payments arm, Mint reports.

* Iflix announced it has expanded its reach to Nepal, where it has entered into an exclusive partnership with local telco Ncell.

* Big Synergy, the Indian production company allied with Reliance MediaWorks Ltd. and Phantom Films, is planning to release up to seven web shows in 2018 for digital platforms such as ALTBalaji, Netflix Inc., Inc., Vuclip, Applause Entertainment and Voot, Television Post reports.

* Idea Cellular Ltd. and Vodafone India, in a joint bid to take on Reliance Jio, are in discussions with local handset makers Lava and Karbonn to offer low-cost 4G smartphones, people familiar with the development told The Economic Times (India).

* The Bombay High Court will hear Vodafone India's case against the telecom regulator's decision to significantly cut interconnect usage charges on Nov. 15, two people aware of the details told The Economic Times (India).

* Twitter Inc. introduced its in-stream video ads to marketers in India. The microblogging platform roped in Amazon, Maruti and Motorola as first brand partners for the in-stream video ads launch in the South Asian country.


* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Service ordered the Office of the Auditor General to investigate the business status and legality of tax practices at LINE Mobile, a new branded network service operated by Dtac TriNet, Thai Post reports. The regulator is also concerned that LINE Mobile's storing of customer data on the Amazon Web Services cloud, based in Singapore, could put national security at risk.

* Uber Technologies Inc. has been accused of using legally questionable software to spy on its rivals in key regional countries including Singapore-based Grab, Today reports. The software, called Surfcam, works by obtaining data from competitors, such as the number of drivers on their networks and their locations.

* Thailand's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society confirmed that state-owned TOT has now connected over 18,000 villages to the ministry's high-speed village broadband network, Manager reports. Sixteen provinces are now fully connected, and TOT said it is on schedule to connect the remaining 5,000 villages to the network by the end of 2017.

* Alibaba Group launched a mobile marketing platform called UC Ads in Indonesia, Kontan reports. UC Ads will focus on businesses that come from educations, financial, FMCG, e-commerce, gaming, tourism, entertainment and IT sectors.

* Singapore-based telecom operator M1 announced the launch of its new range of mySIMe plans to meet growing data needs from the customers. M1 has also launched mySIMs share plan whereby customers of mySIMe and mySIMs can share their plan bundles with up to two other mySIMs lines.

* Thailand's three largest telcos — Advanced Info Service, TrueMove H and Total Access Communication — will close their retail stores Oct. 26 so that staff can pay their respects during the cremation service of the late King Bhumibol, Prachachat reports. Customer services from all three networks will still be available via phone or online.


* 21st Century Fox Inc., which has Lachlan Murdoch as its executive chairman, reportedly pulled its shows from Ten Network Holdings Ltd while the Australian broadcaster's ownership remains unsure, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Murdoch, along with Bruce Gordon, filed a lawsuit against CBS Corp.'s takeover of Ten.

* Channel 4 (UK)-backed streaming service Walter Presents is launching in Australia in November through a partnership with FOXTEL, Variety reports.

* News Corp Australia Pty. Ltd. said it promoted Ebonie Newman to chief revenue officer of Storyful, a social media intelligence, content and news agency owned by News Corp.


Washington Watch: What Trump's 'challenge' to NBC broadcast license could actually mean: After President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that a broadcaster's license with the Federal Communications Commission should be challenged, an FCC commissioner tweeted her own response, writing that is "not how it works."

Conference Chatter: European broadcasters team up to tackle growing digital threat: A speaker at Digital TV Central and Eastern Europe said "the time has come" for broadcasters to work together to tackle digital challenges head on.


Global Multichannel: New TV Network coverage - Asia-Pacific network profiles: Kagan's TV Network database now includes 29 more networks, based in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Consumer Insights: Chinese consumers want a good deal on a smartphone, not just the latest model: Data from our recent online consumer survey in China shows that half of smartphone users will replace their phone when they can find a great price on a better phone.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, Patrick Tibke and Ed Eduard 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.