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Samsung to invest in AI, 5G; SoftBank to lead funding round for Alibaba unit

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent investment deals and updates in the Asia-Pacific technology, media and communications sector.


* Samsung Group said Aug. 8 that it plans to invest 180 trillion South Korean 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.

* SoftBank Group Corp.'s SoftBank Vision Fund plans to lead a funding round of US$3 billion to US$5 billion in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-owned food delivery startup, Reuters reported, citing two sources with knowledge of the matter.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. is planning a CapEx of between 240 billion Indian rupees and 260 billion rupees in 2018, to be spent on mobile network sites, network digitization, fiber rollout and strengthening IT, India's Business Line reported.


* Beijing Moviebook Technology Co. Ltd. completed a 1.36 billion yuan series D funding round, which had SenseTime Group Ltd. and SB China Venture Capital as investors, 36Kr reported Aug. 7. The startup will use the funds to develop smart image technology optimization.

* Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., or NTT, Dentsu Inc., Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. Ltd., an Osaka-based entertainment conglomerate, and public-private fund Cool Japan Fund Inc. invested a total of about ¥10 billion in Japan Contents Factory, a new fund to promote Japanese video content to foreign markets, The Nikkei reported Aug. 2.

* SoftBank Group's SoftBank Vision Fund is looking to invest about US$1 billion in Chinese artificial intelligence startup SenseTime, Bloomberg News reported July 20. The terms of the deal are reportedly being finalized and details are subject to change.

* China Creation Ventures raised nearly US$200 million for its new fund which will invest in local early-stage companies in telecommunication, media and technology sectors, China Money Network reported July 24.

* SoftBank Vision Fund led a series C funding round in Brandless Inc., a San Francisco-based e-commerce startup, according to a July 31 press release. The round raised US$240 million.


* Zhihu, a question-and-answer site dubbed as China's Quora, Inc., completed a US$270 million funding round that will bring more AI elements to the platform, China News Service reported Aug. 8.

* Klook, a Hong Kong-based in-destination booking platform, said Aug. 7 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.

* China's Xiaomi Corp. will allocate a portion of the US$4.5 billion capital raised from its recent Hong Kong IPO for Indian operations, The Economic Times (India) reported Aug. 6. The company's India head, Manu Kumar Jain, reportedly said the money will be used to move into the premium smartphone segment, strengthen the ecosystem for internet services, invest in startups and build country-specific internet of things devices.

* Singapore-based ride-hailing app company GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. announced Aug. 2 that it raised US$2 billion in funding from a group of investors. The funds will be used to expand Grab's range of online-to-offline services in Southeast Asia. A significant portion of the proceeds will be invested in Grab's operations in Indonesia.

* Thailand's communication conglomerate True Corporation will invest 3 billion baht a year in content purchase and creation, Prachachat reported Aug. 2.

* Indian telco Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. is planning to spend around 500 billion rupees over the next six to eight quarters to set up its JioGigaFiber broadband network, BloombergQuint reported July 31.

* SK hynix Inc. said July 27 that it would invest 3.5 trillion won in a new semiconductor fabrication plant at its headquarters in South Korea.

* NTT Communications Corp. said July 26 that it invested US$144 million in its India subsidiary Netmagic Solutions Pvt. Ltd., to establish two data centers in Mumbai and Bangalore.

* Apple Inc.'s Taiwanese contract manufacturer for India Wistron Corp. may step up investment to 30 billion Indian rupees to set up a smartphone manufacturing plant in Karnataka, India, The Economic Times (India) reported July 25.

* True Corp. subsidiary TrueMove H invested 57 billion baht to upgrade its network, enabling the Thai telecom operator to launch FDD Massive MIMO 32T32R technology, RYT9 reported July 24.


* South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Science and ICT will jointly invest 1.5 trillion won to support the chip industry for the next 10 years, according to a July 30 press release.

* Chinese internet of things solution provider Tuya Smart raised US$200 million in its series C round, which had Australian sovereign wealth fund Future Fund and other investors, according to a July 24 China Money Network report.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. is spearheading discussions to raise US$300 million to US$500 million in a funding round for Indian hotel brand Oyo Rooms, two people familiar with the matter told The Economic Times (India).

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