* Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC, Facebook Inc. and other digital companies are facing tougher regulation in Australia as part of government measures unveiled Dec. 12. The government will create a unit within the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to monitor and provide reports on the state of competition and consumer protection in digital platform markets. Other measures include a review of the country's Privacy Act, as well as media law reforms to ensure a "platform-neutral regulatory framework."
* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will invest an additional US$8 billion at its chip factory in China to boost the production of NAND flash memory chips, Reuters reports, citing Chinese media. The company's investment comes as the memory market is expected to rebound in 2020 due to rising demand for 5G devices and networks.
* Netflix Inc. will turn a set of characters made popular by Japanese messaging app LINE Corp. into an original animated series. The computer-generated animation will be a nonverbal, slapstick comedy featuring the Brown & Friends characters, which began as stickers on LINE. Los Angeles-based Kickstart Entertainment will co-produce the series.
* Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. will deploy a new submarine cable connecting Myanmar and India amid increasing demand for global internet links, Nikkei Asian Review reports. The Japanese telco plans to carry out the US$400 million project with a major content provider such as Google or Facebook Inc. In addition to Mumbai and Chennai, the Mist cable will connect to Singapore, a central hub linking Asia to the rest of the world.
* Nokia Corp. is joining forces with five Japanese companies to bring 5G and internet of things to enterprise customers. Nokia will work with NS Solutions Corp. for factory internet of things; Marubeni Corp. for global internet of things; Internet Initiative Japan Inc. for full mobile virtual network operator; Equinix Inc. for multi-cloud and global data centers; and Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc. for smart social infrastructure and smart cities with video solutions.
* Praveen Akkiraju is stepping down as a managing partner of SoftBank Vision Fund LP to explore working with early-stage startups, Bloomberg News reports. Deep Nishar, a senior managing partner, will assume many of Akkiraju's responsibilities, including his board seat at Automation Anywhere Inc.
* Japan Display Inc. said it is in talks to sign a fund procurement agreement with Ichigo Asset Management Ltd.
* Samsung opened its first experience store in the San Francisco Bay Area, CNET reports. The new store is located at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
* Kakao Corp. commenced test runs for its van-hailing service called Venti, Korea JoongAng Daily reports. Users can reserve passenger vans via Kakao T, the company's ride-hailing app.
GREATER CHINA (MAINLAND CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN MARKETS)
* Tencent Holdings Ltd. led a series C funding round for Little Bear Rental, a provider of office facilities to major tech companies including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Baidu Inc., KrASIA reports, citing 36Kr. Sources estimate the funding to be at least 50 million yuan, based on the 2 billion yuan valuation of Little Bear Rental and Tencent's 2.5% stake in the company.
* QUALCOMM Inc. and Intel Corp. participated in the 1 billion yuan series B funding round of Huaqin Co. Ltd., a Shanghai-based smart device manufacturer. Huaqin plans to use the funding proceeds to build a platform that will help clients develop 5G-compatible products.
* Suning.com Co. Ltd. teamed up with Shanghai Interactive Television Co. Ltd. and Shanghai 5-Star Sports channel to form a joint venture, The Paper reports. Called Ning Dong Sports, the joint venture will broadcast high-profile events and explore new business models for sports events.
* WeChat is upgrading its in-app search tool by tweaking it to provide more detailed content and entertainment options, according to KrASIA. The messaging platform will also redesign and establish a section for brands to help companies boost their businesses.
* China Mobile Ltd. signed an agreement with China Publishing Group Co. Ltd. to work together in areas including the application of 5G technologies in the publishing industry, Tencent News reports.
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* Google inked a lease deal with office space operator Simpli Work for 450,000 square feet of office space in Gurgaon, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing people in the know. The facility, which can accommodate at least 4,000 people, will commence operations in 2020.
* Dish TV India Ltd.'s board approved the reappointment of Jawahar Lal Goel as managing director from Dec. 17 to March 31, 2020. The reappointment of Goel, who is also chairman of the company's board, is subject to the approval of shareholders.
* Mumbai-based sports aggregator platform FanCode struck an exclusive, multiyear deal to stream the Bangladesh Premier League in India, MediaInfoline reports. Along with livestreaming BPL cricket matches, FanCode will also provide viewers with real-time match clips, highlights, news, live match scores and game analysis.
* PT Go-Jek Indonesia is nearing a deal to acquire mobile point-of-sale software provider Moka for over US$120 million, KrASIA reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The ride-hailing app is buying Moka for its tools, which will help Gojek increase monetization from its merchants, a source said.
* Malaysian mobile carrier Maxis Bhd. will collaborate with Allo Technology, a subsidiary of Tenaga Nasional Bhd., to improve fiber connectivity in Cyberjaya and Bangsar South in the Klang Valley and Jasin in Malacca. Under the agreement, Maxis will leverage Allo's high-speed broadband network services to expand its fiber footprint in Peninsular Malaysia.
* Telekom Malaysia unit TM One struck an agreement with local municipality Subang Jaya for the deployment of three 5G-enabled use cases. The collaboration will see the deployment of smart traffic light, smart parking and smart safety and security solutions in SS15.
* PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, through its subsidiary MDI Ventures, launched a venture capital fund with Korea's KB Financial Group Inc., CNBC Indonesia reports. The Centauri Fund will invest in startups involved in areas including financial technology, software-as-a-service and big data.
* International Business Machines Corp. established a cybersecurity operation center that will protect patient data in partnership with Thailand's Bumrungrad International Hospital, according to Techsauce.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* New Zealand's Commerce Commission released its final decision on how much the country's 16 telecom providers will each pay toward the NZ$50 million Telecommunications Development Levy, which the government uses to fund the relay service for the hearing-impaired, broadband for rural areas and improvements to the 111 emergency service. The commission decided that Spark New Zealand Ltd., Vodafone New Zealand Ltd., Chorus Ltd. and 2degrees will collectively pay more than 90% of the levy.
VR market forecast to grow in 2020 on new headsets, tech advancements: The virtual reality headset market is set for a global resurgence in 2020, as analysts expect new headsets launched this year will appeal to a wider range of users.
Wireless Investor: Vietnam aims to launch 'home-grown' 5G by 2021, but 4G woes remain: Uptake of 4G remains sluggish in Vietnam despite near-nationwide network coverage, yet the local telco watchdog is already looking forward to a 5G launch in 2021.
Joji Sakurai, Hyegyu Park, Frances Wang, Kevin Osmond and Wil Hathaway contributed to this report.
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