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US warns Germany against buying Huawei equipment; Sea raises over US$1.5B

TOP NEWS

* The U.S. government is pressuring Germany to bar Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from building the country's 5G telecom network infrastructure by warning that using Chinese-made equipment could jeopardize intelligence-sharing between the U.S. and Germany, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a letter from U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to the German Economics Minister. Instead, Grenell suggested Ericsson, Nokia Corp. or Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. would be more suitable 5G network partners.

* Sea Ltd. announced that it raised over US$1.5 billion in its offering of American depositary shares, after selling a total of 69 million shares at US$22.50 each. The Singapore-based digital entertainment company expects to use the net proceeds from the offering for business expansion and other general corporate purposes.

* The lawsuit filed by Huawei against the U.S. government is a strategic move which could benefit the company regardless of the eventual ruling, lawyers and legal experts said.

* Intensified scrutiny of Chinese investments will dampen M&A activity within its semiconductor sector in 2019, analysts say. The number of mergers and acquisitions in China's semiconductor sector fell slightly to 53 in 2018, from 54 in 2017, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed bike-sharing company Beijing Mobike Technology Co. Ltd. will close its operations in some Asian countries and reassess its units in other markets outside China, DealStreetAsia reported. Mobike earlier laid off its Asia-Pacific operations team, including staff and contractors in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, India and Australia.

JAPAN

* SoftBank Group Corp.'s venture capital arm SoftBank Ventures Asia is looking to unveil a new fund in April, worth as much as US$500 million, for early-stage investments, Reuters reported.

* Uhuru Corp., a Japanese internet of things service provider, is considering listing in London in a bid to enter foreign markets, company CEO Takashi Sonoda told Reuters.

* Babel Inc. raised ¥340 million from companies including internet media service provider CyberAgent Inc., Tokyo-based AI specialized incubator Deepcore Inc. and Mitsubishi UFJ Capital Co. Ltd. The Japanese online video advertisement startup plans to use the capital to strengthen its vision to become a global video advertising agency.

SOUTH KOREA

* Kakao Corp.'s cryptocurrency unit raised US$90 million through a private coin offering, and is planning to raise a similar sum again beginning March 12, ahead of the launch of its blockchain platform in June, Bloomberg News reported.

* Samsung revealed Samsung Blockchain Wallet, the cryptocurrency wallet for its recently launched flagship smartphone Galaxy S10. According to Coindesk, the wallet is currently supporting ether and ethereum-based ERC20 tokens.

* LG U+ and Hanyang University's ACE Lab successfully conducted a trial run of their 5G-connected autonomous vehicle on the streets of Seoul with other cars on the road, Yonhap News Agency reported. The car drove eight kilometers in 25 minutes, and made necessary changes to its speeds and route as appropriate to road conditions while the driver was watching video streaming content behind the wheel.

* CJ ENM CO. Ltd. and BigHit Entertainment Co. Ltd. launched a joint venture called Belift Lab Inc. with a capital investment of 7 billion won, ZDNet Korea reported. The venture aims to debut a new boy band in 2020 with BigHit CEO Bang Si-hyuk as chief producer.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. will change the culture of its annual general meeting making it more shareholder friendly, beginning with the upcoming meeting on March 26, Digital Daily reported. The company said it will shift away from a unilateral meeting structure to a more interactive one with the executive management explaining details about the business and receiving questions from shareholders.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Microsoft Corp. sued Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. for failing to comply with a patent-licensing agreement from 2013, CNBC reported. In a court filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Microsoft claimed that Foxconn has been unable to provide twice-yearly royalty reports concerning certain unspecified products and has not made royalty payments on time.

* China Telecom Corp. Ltd. appointed Wang Guoquan executive vice president of the company. Wang previously served as deputy general manager and general manager of the company's Hebei branch.

* Baidu Inc. added "operation of telecom services" into the business registration of its central enterprise in Beijing, The Securities Times reported. The Beijing company was founded in 2001 and has a registered capital of HK$6.42 billion.

* Huawei shipped more than 10 million Mate 20 series smartphones since its launch, Sina reported.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Ebix Inc., a U.S.-based supplier of on-demand software, offered to buy 100% of the outstanding stock of Indian travel services provider Yatra Online Inc. for US$7 per share, which represents an 84% premium to Yatra Online's closing share price of US$3.80 as of March 8.

* Reliance Industries Ltd. and its group companies hiked their shareholding in cable and broadband providers DEN Industries, Hathway Cable & Datacom Ltd. and GTPL Hathway Ltd. According to Television Post, Jio Futuristic Digital Holdings Pvt. Ltd., Jio Digital Distribution Holdings Pvt. Ltd. and Jio Television Distribution Holdings Pvt. Ltd. increased their shareholding through the acquisition of shares via open offer.

* Facebook Inc. is planning to start an operations center in Delhi, India that will monitor election-related content on its platform to prevent the spread of fake news ahead of the country's upcoming elections, Mint reported.

* International Business Machines Corp. will train 200,000 women in science, technology, engineering and math skills across India, The Economic Times (India) reported.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Ministry is considering action against news portal operators that let their readers leave comments that touch on racial, religious and royal institution sensitivities, Malay Mail reported. Minister Gobind Singh Deo said he is weighing whether there is a need to formulate a law for this.

* Thai internet users have voiced concerns that a mobile app released by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is infringing on their privacy, Channel 7 News reported. The app, which is not Google Play Store approved, promises to help users understand their mobile usage and behavior, and offers monthly prizes as download incentives.

* Thai telecom operator True Corp. said investing in 5G infrastructure this year would be premature as Thai telcos spent too much on 4G licensing over the past few years, Bangkok Post reported.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Appen Ltd., an ASX-listed provider of data solutions and services for machine learning and artificial intelligence applications, is to set to raise A$285 million to fund its purchase of San Francisco, Calif.-based AI company Figure Eight Inc., according to The Australian.

FEATURED NEWS

The Week Ahead Europe: EU to vote on Chinese tech security risk: The European Parliament will this week vote on security risks posed by the "rising presence" of Chinese technology suppliers within the EU, and on possible ways to reduce any threat.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Multichannel Trends: Q4'18 and full-year broadband gains illustrate wireline momentum: Wireline broadband in the U.S. leaned heavily on cable in 2018, which overcame flagging telco subscribers to produce full-year growth of nearly 2.7 million subscribers to top 105.8 million at year-end, according to our full industry estimates.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai and 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.