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Samsung to boost AI, 5G investments; NTT setting up new holding company

TOP NEWS

* Samsung Group plans to invest 180 trillion won over three years in CapEx and businesses that will drive growth, including artificial intelligence and 5G. About 25 trillion won of the total will be allocated to AI, 5G, automotive electronics components and biopharmaceuticals. These initiatives will be led by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the South Korean conglomerate's flagship company. Additionally, the company plans to set up and operate software education centers across South Korea, where it intends to spend 130 trillion won of its planned total investment.

* Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. is creating a new holding company and a new global innovation fund of up to US$500 million in a bid to improve its competitiveness and profitability. The Japanese telecommunication giant said the new holding company called NTT Inc. will be set up by the third quarter of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, by taking in NTT Corp.'s four operating companies – NTT Communications Corp., Dimension Data, NTT Data Corp., NTT Security – as well as NTTi3.

* Singapore's sovereign fund Temasek Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. purchased a large single-digit stake in ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.-owned ride-hailing service Ola, for about US$225 million from a group of early investors in the company, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Temasek is also in talks to invest more in the Indian company by subscribing to new shares. Some employees and investors of the Indian cab-aggregator are expected to sell their shares as part of the funding round.

JAPAN

* NTT Communications Corp. announced it acquired an undisclosed stake in cloud phone directory service Phone Appli Inc. The company plans to turn Phone Appli into a consolidated subsidiary.

* Dentsu Inc., a major advertising agency in Japan, said it is considering possibilities in mobility as a service, covering autonomous car platforms focusing on a combination of services rather than vehicle ownership. Dentsu has set up a MaaS project team to focus on research and development in the new technology.

* Toshiba Corp. announced a record net income for the first three months of the fiscal year ending June, hitting ¥1.017 trillion from ¥50 billion in the same period the previous year. The gains were mostly due to the sale of its flash memory unit Toshiba Memory Corp., which accounted for roughly ¥970 billion of earnings.

SOUTH KOREA

* SK Group's internet service unit SK Broadband issued global bonds worth US$300 million with a coupon rate of 3.875%. The company is expected to use the capital for the redemption of foreign bonds due this October.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. introduced new service plans targeting users between 13 to 30 years old. The three new plans provide bigger data packages and offer benefits including unlimited music streaming. The telco will also release an album titled "SM STATION X 0" in collaboration with SM Entertainment.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Hong Kong fixed-line operator HGC Global Communications Ltd. signed a conditional share purchase deal through a subsidiary with Myanmar-based network services company Golden TMH Telecom Co. Ltd. to become a majority shareholder of the latter. The agreement is expected to facilitate the first overseas expansion of HGC's local fixed-line services after its acquisition by I Squared Capital. The company added that the deal also marks one of the first investments in Myanmar by a Hong Kong telco.

* Zhihu, a question-and-answer site dubbed as China's Quora Inc., completed a US$270 million funding round, China News Service reports. The investment was announced by CEO Zhou Yuan without disclosing the valuation of the company or the names of the investors. Yuan said the fresh funds will bring more AI elements to the platform.

* Klook, a Hong Kong-based in-destination booking platform, said it closed a US$200 million series D funding round, which had Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as investors. Klook said it plans to open an office in the U.S. by the end of 2018 and add more U.S. and Europe-based curated activities and services onto the platform.

* IQIYI Inc.'s newly launched sports app iQIYI Sports secured 500 million yuan in an investment round led by U.S.-based IDG Capital Group Inc., according to China Money Network.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-owned e-commerce platform Taobao partnered with Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft HoloLens to develop smart glasses that can check product information, 36kr reports. The glasses, called Taobao MR Buy, allow users to see a holographic version of the product and view its related information including price, reviews and purchasing options.

* Chinese online retailer Suning.com Co. Ltd. plans to open 12,000 cloud technology-equipped brick-and-mortar stores before 2020, Yicai reports. The shops will provide support for merchandising, marketing, sales and after-sales services.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd. said its accumulated losses have exceeded the company's paid-up capital and reserves, adding that it is in talks to monetize certain assets, proceeds from which will be used to meet financial obligations. The Indian telco has also proposed to raise 200 billion Indian rupees through either redeemable preference shares, nonconvertible debentures or inter corporate deposit or loans.

* Apple Inc. and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India have found a middle ground to end a dispute over the iPhone maker's reluctance to support the regulator's do-not-disturb, or DND, app on its devices. According to The Economic Times (India), the regulator "is satisfied with the arrangement" that Apple's newest operating system will include about 75% of the regulator's DND app features. The iOS 12, which launches September, will allow subscribers to flag unwanted calls and messages.

* STAR India Pvt. Ltd.'s Star Sports secured broadcast rights to air the Caribbean Premier League in India, Television Post reports. Under the two-year deal, Star Sports will show all 34 matches of the tournament.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Indonesian Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara said pornographic content will not be accessible in Indonesia effective Aug. 10, Tempo reports. Rudiantara stated that all internet services providers will activate the safe mode in search engines to block all pornographic content.

* Thai telcos Advanced Info Service PCL and Total Access Communication PCL will participate in the upcoming 1800 MHz spectrum auction, but will not take part in the 900 MHz auction, Krungthep Turakij reports.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission revealed that as of July 2018, the number of digital TV viewers rose 89.42% while cable and satellite TV audience shrunk to 10.58%, Post Today reports.

* The Thai government is concerned about the long-term economic impact of using the 900 MHz spectrum range for its high-speed railway project and may switch to the 400 MHz range instead, Bangkok Post reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* ASX-listed QMS Media Ltd. made an investment in Place Capital, a newly established venture capital fund that will invest in Australian technology companies in the global sports, media and entertainment industries. As part of the arrangement, QMS is proposing to sell to the fund its technology interests in Sportsmate, Gomeeki and Rpple. Additionally, QMS Executive Director David Edmonds will join the board of Place Capital.

* NBN Co. Ltd. said it has enabled the DOCSIS 3.1 cable technology on its hybrid fiber coaxial network. The company claims the technology will double the capacity to meet demand especially during peak-usage times.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Analysis: Debt load, build-out deadlines complicate DISH's wireless ambitions: After a decade-long, $21-billion spectrum-buying spree, DISH has less than two years to deploy a wireless network that satisfies federal build-out requirements. Analysts worry the company is running low on both time and money to achieve its goal.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: State of South Korean online video: subscription: The South Korean OTT market is dominated by virtual multichannel and mobile IPTV services offered by incumbent multichannel and mobile operators.

Broadcast Investor: Economics of Broadcast TV Retransmission Revenue: Although TV station owners have successfully secured higher retrans fees in each renewal period, net retrans margins have compressed due to the rising cost of live sports rights.

RECENT EARNINGS

Sinclair analyzes options for Tribune, eyes regional sports networks: The station groups are still analyzing approaches to keep their merger ambitions alive, but Sinclair is also looking at other acquisition targets like regional sports networks.

Joji Sakurai, Nicole Shiwon Kim, 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.