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SoftBank to invest US$1.6B more in Didi; Naspers eyeing deals in India

TOP NEWS

* SoftBank Group Corp. will invest an additional US$1.6 billion in Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd., despite the Chinese ride-hailing app's losses in 2018, TechNode reported. SoftBank CEO and founder Masayoshi Son, who mentioned the additional investment in an interview, did not specify whether the investment would come from SoftBank or its venture capital arm SoftBank Vision Fund LP.

* Naspers Ltd. is earmarking about US$1 billion in India this year in its push to find investments that can replicate the success of its backing for China's Tencent Holdings Ltd., a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. As a first step, the South African conglomerate is reportedly in discussions to invest about US$200 million in business loan provider Capital Float and payment security platform Wibmo Inc.

* Apple Inc. is ratcheting up its engineering and design efforts to become self-sufficient in chips, aiming to cut costs and protect its trade secrets.

JAPAN

* ND Software Co. Ltd., a medical software developer in Japan, is looking to invest up to ¥3 billion in artificial intelligence and sensor-related businesses, The Nikkei reported.

* Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, commissioned U.K.-based Icon Films and Botswana's Natural History Film Unit to produce "Okavango," an 8K documentary feature that will explore Africa's Okavango Delta oasis, World Screen reported.

* Dentsu Inc. and Tokyo-based film production company Synca Creations secured exclusive global marketing and broadcast rights to IFSC Events, including World Championships from 2019 through 2023.

SOUTH KOREA

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. delivered data transfer speeds of up to 2.7 Gbps via 5G-LTE aggregation technology, and said that the technology will be embedded in the upcoming Galaxy S10 5G smartphone, Digital Daily reported. The new Galaxy model, once launched, will support 2.6 Gbps speeds at the beginning and be upgraded to support 2.7 Gbps in the first half of 2019. The telco plans to apply the technology to other 5G-connected devices.

* In other SK Telecom news, the company and Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. (MBC) (KR) signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop new media businesses for the 5G era, starting with a 5G-based live broadcasting system, E Daily reported. The two companies will also cooperate on creating mobile-based content, digital advertisements and next-generation media content using augmented reality and hologram technologies.

* NAVER Corp. is estimated to spend about 150 billion won in stock options for employees for the next five years in an effort to retain highly skilled talents, Chosun Biz reported. The company is awaiting approval for an incentive program to grant a total of 837,000 shares to 637 key talents at an annual general meeting scheduled for March 22.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Zhongxingxin Telecom Co. Ltd., a controlling shareholder of ZTE Corp., plans to cut its stake in the Chinese telecom equipment maker after ZTE's stock more than doubled in value since surviving a U.S. sanction in 2018, Reuters reported. Zhongxingxin plans to sell up to 2% of its ZTE A-shares via block trades within 90 days, with a proposal to use not more than 41.9 million ZTE A-shares, or 1% of the company's total share capital, to subscribe for units in the ICBCCS SHSZ 300 exchange-traded fund.

* Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd.-owned video chat app Duoshan has been removed from Tencent's Android app store Yingyongbao, KrASIA reported. ByteDance said the app's disappearance is the result of Tencent ramping up its blocking efforts against rival companies.

* Yangqing Jia, an AI director at Facebook Inc., left the company early this month to join Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as vice president of engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to his stint at Facebook, Jia was a research scientist at Google LLC.

* China Mobile Ltd. is pulling some of its TD-SCDMA base stations in preparation for the 5G era, Xinhua News reported. The company is reportedly looking to divert more resources to its 5G infrastructure, and may completely eliminate its 3G network before 2020, according to analysts.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Walt Disney Co.'s acquisition of several 21st Century Fox Inc. assets, which include Star India Pvt. Ltd., will mean the loss of about 350 jobs in India, two sources told The Economic Times (India). The merged entity, Star and Disney India, will be headed by Sanjay Gupta, managing director of Star India.

* The Indian government warned Twitter Inc. that its top executives could face a seven-year jail term and financial penalties for their failure to remove content and accounts carrying "objectionable and inflammatory content," The Times of India reported.

* Four cities in the west Indian state of Gujarat have banned Tencent's hit game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Mobile," International Business Times India reported. Residents will be not be arrested for playing the game, but may risk prosecution if found resisting efforts by authorities to stop the game use. Reasons for the ban were not specified, but it is suspected to be a countermeasure to several cases of violence related to the game involving minors and adults.

* Mozilla Corp. is eyeing partnerships with device makers in India and is also exploring the potential market and opportunities in the country, The Economic Times (India) reported.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* CXA Group, a Singapore-based predictive and data intelligence platform, raised US$25 million in its latest funding round. New investors include Singtel Innov8 Pte. Ltd. and MDI Ventures, the venture capital arms of telecom operators Singtel and Telkom Indonesia, respectively. CXA plans to use the capital to aid its expansion across the Asia-Pacific region.

* Southeast Asian ride-hailing app GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. is offering loans to companies of up to S$100,000, The Straits Times reported. The loan application reportedly takes only two minutes and can be done online.

* LINE ScaleUp by LINE Thailand Co. is investing US$20 million into an undisclosed local startup to help it reach the unicorn status, Prachachat reported. A unicorn is a startup with a valuation of US$1 billion or more.

* Thailand-based telecom operator Advanced Info Service PCL is allocating 2 billion baht for customer services this year, Khaosod reported. Around 50% of the budget will be used to provide special privileges to its subscribers.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Broadcasting Corp., in its response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's digital platform inquiry, said a review of the media regulatory framework was "necessary" as the competition watchdog looks to clamp down the market dominance of Facebook and Google.

* Uniti Wireless Ltd. announced the appointment of former Vocus Group Ltd. Chairman Vaughan Bowen as an executive director who will lead the company's mergers and acquisitions and strategic expansion.

FEATURED NEWS

Export reliance hits German, Dutch economies as Brexit, global trade take toll: Foreign trade woes will take a toll on export-oriented eurozone economies such as Germany and the Netherlands with new outlook downgrades for both, while U.S. trade policy, a slowing Chinese economy and Brexit remain key risks.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Fiber thrives in developing Southeast Asian markets: Fiber is catching up in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, as it covers more than 50% of the countries' broadband market share as of 2018.

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.