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Alibaba strikes gold with Olympics deal; 'Super Mario Run' heads to Android

TOP NEWS

* Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reached a partnership deal with the International Olympic Committee to provide cloud computing and big data services for the Olympic Games until 2028. Alibaba will also launch an e-commerce platform specifically for Olympics-related products and work to popularize the Olympic Channel in China.

* Nintendo announced on its Twitter Inc. feed that it will launch an Android version of its smartphone game "Super Mario Run" in March. The company is offering pre-registration for game availability notifications through a page on Google Inc.'s Play Store. Alphabet Inc. owns Google.

* Ozflix, a streaming service devoted solely to Australian films, is launching in Australia on Jan. 26, Broadway World reports. It will start streaming with a catalog of 250 Australian films on a pay-per-view basis, with 50% of each rental fee going to the distributor or filmmaker, in addition to free original content shows.

JAPAN

* Paul McCartney filed suit in New York against Sony Corp. unit Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, seeking to regain publishing rights to The Beatles' classic songs, The Nikkei reports. McCartney is claiming the right of authors to regain ownership of their works from music publishers after a specific period of time has passed.

* The Development Bank of Japan, a government-backed lender, is considering an investment in Toshiba Corp. to aid its semiconductor operations after they are spun off from the company, The Nikkei reports. The Japanese company's losses in its nuclear power business could reportedly reach up to ¥700 billion, making increased funding an urgent matter.

* U.S. investment adviser Capital Research & Management sold off 1.52 million shares that it was holding in Nintendo Co. Ltd., reducing its stake to 12.64%, The Nikkei reports.

SOUTH KOREA

* The Korea Communications Commission launched an investigation into South Korea's three major telcos SK Telecom Co. Ltd., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp., which are suspected of providing distributors with more subsidies for foreign subscribers than for Korean nationals, Digital Times reports. The regulator believes that this may have resulted in some users being unfairly subsidized.

* South Korean internet company Naver Corp. will integrate its Live Search tab, which it created to experiment with personalized context-based web searches, into its regular mobile search function starting Feb. 9, ET News reports. The company expects the quality of search results to improve after the integration.

* Kakao Corp. is increasing the number of times other developers can access its voice-related app programming interface for free, from 5,000 to 20,000 per day, Financial News reports. With the move, the South Korean internet company aims to open up the basic voice technology to expedite the development of artificial intelligence services in the country.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., plans to build a new assembly facility next to Apple Inc.'s upcoming research and development center in Shenzhen, The Nikkei reports. A source said the iPhone assembler is aiming to help Apple create prototypes of new products developed at the center.

* Six employees of Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad who used to work for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. as engineers and designers were detained by authorities for allegedly leaking company secrets to Coolpad and parent company LeEco, Reuters reports. The workers have denied the allegations.

* Time Out Hong Kong, a biweekly English-language lifestyle magazine with a circulation of 40,000, has ceased print operations, Hong Kong Free Press reports. The London headquarters for Time Out magazines will continue to manage the Hong Kong website, but it is not yet clear if there will be any job losses or whether the Hong Kong office will remain open.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Pt Indosat Tbk, an Indonesian telco commonly known as Indosat Ooredoo, plans to launch a 4.5G network this year, Antara News reports. The network, which has been in development by Indosat since 2012, is said to be two times faster than its 4G network.

* Philippines-based Globe Telecom will allocate US$750 million for capital expenditures this year, with the majority intended to support data services, The Philippine Star reports, citing Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu. The CapEx would be funded through internally generated cash flow.

* Singapore Technologies Electronics Ltd., or ST Electronics (Info-Software Systems), will become the majority stakeholder of Singaporean telco SP Telecommunications Pte Ltd. through a conditional share purchase agreement, The Business Times reports. The purchase consideration, which is estimated at S$54 million, will grant ST Electronics a majority stake of 51% in the telco.

* Mesiniaga Berhad, a Malaysian information technology products and services provider, won an eight-year contract from Telekom Malaysia for the supply, installation and maintenance of the telco's internet gateway, The Star reports. The contract, which is worth 20.73 million Malaysian ringgit, is effective until the end of 2024.

* The music streaming app JOOX, a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd., announced that it registered more than 25 million downloads from Thai users in 2016, making it Thailand's top music streaming app, Krungthep Turakij reports. Krittee Manoleehagul, managing director of Tencent (Thailand), reportedly said that JOOX aims to increase its number of active users this year from around 7 million to 8 million per month to 15 million per month.

* Suphachai Chearavanont, president and CEO of Thai telco True Corp., announced that he will step down from his executive positions in the first or second quarter, but will stay on as a member of the board, Thai Post reports. Suphachai will reportedly take up the position of CEO at CP Group, True's parent company.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Telstra Corp. Ltd. won a legal battle against an appeal filed by the Australian Privacy Commissioner, allowing it to retain its metadata, Computerworld Australia reports. The Australian Full Federal Court decided to uphold a decision made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which ruled that metadata associated with a customer's mobile service does not constitute "personal information" about an individual, so Telstra does not have to hand it over to customers by request.

* Screen Australia has allocated A$1.6 million to fund the production of seven documentaries through its Documentary Producer and Commissioned programs, which includes the first virtual reality film to get funding from Screen Australia's documentary unit.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* The Competition Commission of India has greenlit Sony Pictures Television Inc. unit Sony Pictures Networks India's US$385 million acquisition of Taj Television, Television Post reports. The sports broadcasting subsidiary of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. holds channels under the TEN Sports brand that operate in several countries.

* Several Indian officials have balked at Apple's demands, including tax concessions and several other policy exceptions, to start manufacturing iPhones in the country, Reuters reports. Some officials reportedly consider the demands excessive and unfair to foreign companies already operating in India.

* UC Web, a subsidiary of Alibaba Mobile Business Group, will invest 1.2 billion Indian rupees to increase user-generated digital content in the Indian market. According to the Times of India, UC Web aims to bridge the demand-and-supply gap through big data-backed content distribution, and is in advanced talks with local mobile device makers to preinstall its web browser.

* Amazon.com Inc. struck a long-term agreement with new media company Only Much Louder to bring 14 Indian stand-up comedy specials to its Prime Video service, NDTV reports. The specials will be available on Amazon Prime Video globally by May.

* Motorola Inc. is planning an official entry into Pakistan in February. According to Propakistani, the final lineup of smartphones to be launched locally is not yet finalized, but it is expected that a flagship model will be among the debut devices.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. is considering raising funds via a private placement of bonds, The Economic Times (India) reports. The development comes as the Indian telco is trying to sell a stake in its tower infrastructure unit Bharti Infratel.

* Ooredoo's Maldives unit successfully expanded its 4G+ network nationwide, Telecompaper reports. The company initiated the network upgrade in December 2016 and was enabled by having additional capacity on its nationwide submarine cable.

FEATURED NEWS

Hires and Fires: US Media & Comm management moves through Jan. 18: Google, Microsoft, Sony: S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a weekly rundown of executive changes in the media and communications industries.

The Daily Dose: Google to buy Twitter's mobile development unit; NBCU to shut down Esquire: Google agreed to buy Twitter unit Fabric as part of the company's goal to further its mobile development for iOS, Android and mobile web apps, while NBCU decided to close Esquire Network, and relaunch it as a digital platform.

The Daily Dose Europe: Bertelsmann mulls publisher stake hike; new CEO for T-Mobile Netherlands: German media conglomerate Bertelsmann is considering a stake hike in trade publisher Penguin Random House, while Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile Netherlands appointed Søren Abildgaard as its new CEO.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: Programming & Film Trends Quarterly Industry Presentation, Q4'16: SNL Kagan's latest quarterly presentation report examining industry trends and data for the U.S. programming and film sector.

Economics of Networks: Snap, Crackle and pop at NATPE Miami 2017: The marketplace at NATPE Miami 2017 was crowded with producers of content looking to find a home for their kaleidoscope of ideas, featured across a variety of platforms, to be broadcast all over the world.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Patrick Tibke and Kevin Osmond 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.