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Toshiba gets China nod in $18B chip sale; Kakao to merge with entertainment arm

TOP NEWS

* Chinese regulators approved Toshiba Corp.'s pending US$18 billion sale of its memory chip business to a consortium led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital LP. Without specifically mentioning China, Toshiba said in a statement that it has obtained all necessary approvals for the sale of Toshiba Memory Corp., which it expects to close June 1. Toshiba clinched the deal with the Bain-led investors' group, which includes Apple Inc., Kingston Technology Corp. and Dell Technologies Capital, in September 2017. China reportedly delayed the regulatory review of the deal due to ongoing trade tensions with the U.S.

* South Korea's Kakao Corp. decided to merge with its entertainment subsidiary Kakao M, formerly called LoEn Entertainment Inc., to strengthen platform competitiveness and maximize the synergy between the two companies. The internet company expects the combination will help expand the subscriber base of its music streaming service Melon. The merger is up for approval at a shareholders' meeting on July 5, with Kakao seeking to finalize the deal by Sept. 1.

* Hong Kong's PCCW Media Ltd. introduced its new over-the-top platform, Now E, which will offer thousands of hours of premium content ranging from Hollywood blockbusters, U.S. TV series, Asian movies and dramas, as well as variety shows, concerts and sports events. The Now E app will be available for download on Apple's App Store and Google Inc.'s Google Play later this month.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. reported a 61% jump in first-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders at 23.29 billion Chinese yuan, up from 14.48 billion yuan a year earlier, primarily driven by its mobile gaming and social network businesses. The Shenzhen, China-based tech conglomerate saw first-quarter revenue increase 48% to 73.53 billion yuan from49.55 billion yuan a year earlier.

JAPAN

* Rakuten Inc.'s Rakuten TV has acquired TalkTalk TV's off-net transactional base, which comprises customers that are not subscribed to TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC's TV and broadband packages. The deal will allow Rakuten TV to reach more than 3 million users in the U.K. as part of its expansion plans. The off-net transactional customers will be able to watch purchased content on Rakuten TV where available and can buy new 4K content via compatible Smart TVs.

* Sony Pictures Entertainment continues to undergo a series of job cuts and reshuffling across its television and film divisions as the Sony Corp. unit tries to improve the company's bottom line, Variety reports. Over the past week, Crackle, Sony Pictures Entertainment's ad-supported streaming platform, lost 12 of its employees to these cuts. The division is reportedly undergoing restructuring, combining its digital ad sales and ad solutions divisions. Once reconfigured, the new department will report to a senior vice president in the ad solutions department.

* Fujitsu Ltd. and Lenovo Group Ltd. have jointly developed an artificial intelligence system that reads facial expressions and monitors movements, as part of an effort to move into artificial intelligence data analysis amid a shrinking PC market, The Nikkei reports. Fujitsu Client Computing Ltd., the joint venture company between Fujitsu and Lenovo, plans to commercialize the system in two to three years.

* SoftBank Group Corp. is in preliminary discussions over a possible investment in Indian restaurant recommendation and food delivery service Zomato, The Economic Times reports.

SOUTH KOREA

* LG Electronics Inc. is kicking off the global rollout of its new smartphone LG G7 ThinQ in South Korea, to be followed by key markets in Asia, the Americas and Europe. According to Money Today, LG's new flagship phone with AI capabilities will launch in its home market on May 18.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said it plans to roll out its AI assistant Bixby to more home appliances, with an aim to integrate the technology in all of its internet of things products by 2020, according to ZDNet Korea.

* Kakao Corp. will apply an AI-based visual engine technology to its commerce service this year, Financial News reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Shenzhen-based tech company Xunlei Ltd. signed a partnership with Baidu Inc.'s online video streaming platform iQIYI Inc., pursuant to which iQiyi will receive Xunlei's internet-as-a-service, which includes edge and function computing and shared content delivery network solutions, through its newly rolled out StellarCloud platform. Xunlei also announced the rollout of blockchain platform ThunderChain Open, in which third-party developers and companies can build, migrate and manage decentralized applications.

* Chinese short video streaming app Douyin sued Tencent Holdings for spreading video clips that accused Douyin of encouraging harmful behavior to children. The Toutiao subsidiary is seeking 1 million yuan in compensation and an apology from Tencent.

* Beijing-based mobile news aggregator Toutiao filed a lawsuit against Baidu accusing the company of unauthorized streaming of a talk show co-produced by Toutiao.

* Chinese software crowdsourcing platform CODING secured 100 million yuan in its series B+ funding round, wherein Tencent Cloud was an investor, Securities Daily reports.

* Gong Zhenbing, former chairman of Baidu's food delivery platform Baidu Waimai, has joined Chinese ride-hailing platform Yidao Yongche as CEO, The Paper reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Reliance Communications Ltd. offered to resolve an eight-month-old dispute with Ericsson AB outside the purview of Indian insolvency court National Company Law Tribunal, The Economic Times reports, citing people familiar with the matter. Bilateral talks are reportedly being held with no formal offer being made yet. Any settlement is expected to allow beleaguered RCom to push ahead with its plan to pare debt by selling its wireless assets to Reliance Jio.

* Several executives holding senior positions at Reliance Jio recently left the company, people familiar with the development told India's The Economic Times. Tareq Amin, senior vice president of technology development, Ayush Sharma, senior vice president of engineering and technology and Nikola Sucevic, assistant vice president and data science head have left their positions.

* In more Jio news, the Indian telco formed an exclusive partnership with entertainment-based interactivity platform Screenz to create Jio Screenz, a digital engagement service that will allow real-time, two-way conversations between broadcasters and viewers.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* U.S.-based private equity firm TPG is pursuing a deal to merge Apollo Towers Myanmar with its rival Pan Asia Majestic Eagle, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg News.

* Total Access Communication PCL CEO Lars-Ake Norling said the Thai telco will offer 4G coverage in the second quarter and is considering a bid in the 1800 MHz spectrum auction in August, Reuters reports.

* HBO partnered with Jakarta-based PT First Media Television to launch its HBO GO streaming service in Indonesia, Indotelko reports. Currently, HBO GO is only available to First Media customers who are subscribed to the HBO channel.

* Viu, a video streaming subsidiary of Hong Kong's PCCW Media, will deliver Asian content, including South Korean dramas, to Thai audiences through a content deal with GMM Grammy PCL GMM25 digital channel, Manager reports.

* Singapore-based telco M1 Ltd. announced the integration of its M1 Remit mobile remittance service with the government's digital identity authentication service MyInfo. The integration will allow M1 Remit users to perform instant account registration, verification and remittance.

* Thai pay TV operator TrueVisions will broadcast the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 4K ULTRA HD, Thairath reports. Live coverage of the tournament will be available to TrueVisions' gold and platinum package subscribers.

* GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd.'s Indonesian unit is partnering with PT Bank Tabungan Negara to allow eligible Grab drivers to obtain subsidized mortgage loans, Indotelko reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Spark New Zealand Ltd. upgraded its Lightbox TV platform with new features including a premium TV plan that allows temporary downloads of the entire Lightbox TV catalog, a movie rental service and a PIN-protected kid's corner with more children-focused content.

FEATURED NEWS

Conference Chatter: Upfronts 2018: As CBS declares ratings victory, legal battle for control simmers: CBS President, Chairman and CEO Les Moonves received a standing ovation at the programmer's upfront presentation, which revealed a new Monday schedule and a "Murphy Brown" revival in Thursday's comedy block.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: State of Australia online video: Subscription: Australia is one of the most mature OTT markets in the APAC region yet we do not expect a near term slowdown in overall paid subscribers growth.

Broadcast Investor: Sinclair, Tribune Media station divestitures yield $1.54B: Including the seven-station deal with Fox for $910 million and all the previously announced divestitures, the Sinclair and Tribune Media station sales added up to $1.54 billion at an average 8.0x seller's 2018-19 forward cash flow multiple.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Patrick Tibke 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.