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Chinese giants eye Prime Focus; Flipkart set for over $1B in fresh funding

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Chinese giants eye Prime Focus; Flipkart set for over $1B in fresh funding


* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. are in talks with India's Reliance Capital Ltd. to buy its entire 35.1% stake in media services company Prime Focus, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing sources aware of the development. Based in Mumbai, Prime Focus specializes in visual effects, animation and post-production services for film and TV, with the Hollywood films "Inception" and "Interstellar" among its Oscar-winning work.

* Indian e-commerce company Flipkart is set to receive fresh funding of US$1.2 billion to US$1.5 billion from Tencent, Microsoft Corp. and eBay Inc., giving it a pre-money valuation of US$10 billion in its current round of fundraising, Mint reports, citing sources familiar with the matter. They also said that Flipkart was in ongoing negotiations about buying local rival Snapdeal with its backer, Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. Snapdeal has previously denied that such discussions were taking place.

* The Indian government asked Apple Inc. to coordinate with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on component manufacturing plans in the country, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing a senior official. The official added that Apple would not be allowed exemptions from India's phased manufacturing program for mobile handsets and tablets, although minor adjustments could be made for the iPhone maker.


* PayPal Inc. and Visa Inc. have extended their U.S. partnership to collaborate on a digital and mobile payments solution for consumers and merchants in the Asia-Pacific region.


* Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC and Casio Computer Co. Ltd. inked a new patent licensing deal which includes broad coverage for smartwatch technologies. Pursuant to the agreement, Casio's smartwatches will build on Microsoft's technology to help customers achieve more from their wearables.

* Japanese public relations company Vector Inc. struck a strategic deal with Sina Japan Synthesis Network Group, an ad agency for Chinese microblogging company Weibo and portal site Sina in Japan to strengthen its video-streaming services to boost the use of cross-border e-commerce for China. Under the deal NewsTV Inc., Vector's video production and streaming unit, launched its streaming service Weibo x NewsTV to showcase products and services of Japanese companies.

* NIFTY Corp., an internet service provider and subsidiary of Fujitsu Ltd., will start selling low-cost smartphones at the stores of electronics retailer Nojima Corp. by the end of April, The Nikkei reports. NIFTY aims to expand its customer base through face-to-face interactions.

* Danny Roderick resigned as chairman of Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, Toshiba Corp.'s U.S. nuclear unit, on March 27, two days before the company's Chapter 11 filing, The Nikkei reports. Roderick was replaced by Mamoru Hatazawa, chief of Toshiba's nuclear division.


* Telco KT Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean investment banking company Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. Ltd. to provide artificial intelligence-enabled financial services on its AI set-top box KT GiGA Genie, ZDNet Korea reports. The service will start by letting users check the stock market and indices using voice recognition, and will be expanded to the opening of accounts.

* KT Corp. subsidiary Genie Music Corp. is entering the connected car market with the release of its collaboration with automaker Jaguar Land Rover to make an in-vehicle infotainment system, Newsis reports. The newly introduced system, Jaguar Land Rover Genie, will be used in the new Discovery models first and then rolled out to other cars.

* Telecommunications company SK Broadband resumed video-on-demand services for the media content of TV networks Korea Broadcasting System and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) (KR) on its video platform Oksusu, ET News reports. The VOD service for the country's terrestrial networks had been blocked since February due to disagreements over fee negotiations.

* Pokémon Korea announced it will launch the Pokémon Go Plus wearable device in the country on April 28, iNews 24 reports. Pre-orders for the device, which allows the augmented reality mobile game to be played without looking at a smartphone, start April 7.


* Beijing-based Wecash, a credit evaluation service provider that uses AI, raised US$80 million in its series C funding, Tencent News reports. Wecash serves 30 financial institutions in various fields, including insurance, auto and plastic surgery.

* Zeng Xuezhong resigned from ZTE Corp. as executive vice president and global head of the company's mobile devices division, Sina News reports.


* Rokki Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia that provides in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment services, signed a memorandum of understanding with Inmarsat plc, a British satellite telecommunications company. Inmarsat will provide its GX Aviation in-flight connectivity solution to be installed in AirAsia's Airbus A320 and A330 fleets.

* Indonesian telco PT Indosat Tbk entered a strategic partnership with Indonesian pay TV provider NexMedia. It will introduce a bundle of NexMedia's pay TV services with Indosat's 4G internet connection.

* Singaporean telco M1 Ltd. introduced a selection of corporate mobile plans called M1 Enterprise Mobile. The plans include voice, data and messaging, and are usable across 56 business destinations.

* Thailand-based Wongnai Media Co. Ltd., known for operating the restaurant review website Wongnai, will soon add a mobile payment option to its platform through AliPay Internet Technology Company Ltd., Krungthep Turakij reports. It also launched a new service called Wongnai Lineman Delivery through its partnership with LINE Corp.

* Brother Commercial (Thailand) Ltd. is exploring the possibility of using chat for after-sales and customer service, Krungthep Turakij reports. The company reportedly believes that the LINE app would be the best option and expects to start the new feature in September.

* According to Thailand's newly approved draft of the telecom act, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission will be downsized to seven members instead of the current mandate of 11 individuals, Thansettakij reports. The draft passed the National Legislative Assembly with 197 votes and two abstentions.


* Spark New Zealand Ltd., in an announcement to the NZX, said its NZ$0.80 offer price for 100% of TeamTalk's ordinary shares is full and final. The telco also dropped the condition requiring 90% shareholder acceptance, meaning Spark's offer will become unconditional if it reaches more than 50% shareholder acceptance.

* Fairfax Media Ltd. is proposing major structural editorial changes across its Australian Metro Publishing newsrooms to achieve A$30 million in annual savings, the publisher said in an statement to the ASX.

* Former National Australia Bank Ltd. executive Gavin Slater has been appointed to oversee a A$10 billion digital transformation of Australia's federal government services, according to The Australian Financial Review.


* A beta version of Google Inc.'s YouTube Go app is now available for users to download in India through the Google Play Store, the Alphabet Inc. unit announced in a blog post. The company first unveiled the app in September 2016, which has since undergone months of tests and refinement.

* Google won a ruling in India's Delhi High Court allowing the company ownership of the domain name, the Press Trust of India reports. The registration of the domain name was reportedly made in bad faith and was not a coincidence.


Australia suspends ads on YouTube; Apple wins over Australian banks: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent technology and startup news in Australia and New Zealand.

Google-Uber self-driving suit's new twist: In Google's suit over self-driving car technology against Uber, the name of a second Uber employee facing legal action was revealed in an improperly redacted court document.


Economics of Internet: Australian OTT TV Summit highlights Asian players: The Australian OTT TV Summit held March 27-28 in Sydney featured several players from Asia, including Media Prima's Tonton, iFlix and PCCW's Viu, as they discussed their operations and what Australia can learn from them.

Wireless Investor: AT&T's DIRECTV Now subs double in 3 months: DIRECTV Now launched on Nov. 30, 2016, and reached 200,000 subscribers in December, a milestone that U-verse took a year and half to reach.

Economics of Networks: NFL scores $50M from Amazon: Amazon jumped into the expensive sports rights market by shelling out an estimated $50 million for streaming rights to NFL Thursday Night Football games in 2017.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, Kevin Osmond 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.