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SoftBank eyes US$4B loan from tech stakes; Alibaba invests in India's VMate


* SoftBank Vision Fund LP is planning to borrow US$4 billion against its holdings in ride-hailing startup Uber Technologies Inc. and two other companies, London's Financial Times reported, citing people directly involved in the deal. The investment arm of Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. is reportedly in talks with banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to secure a loan arranged against its stakes in Uber, soon-to-be floated enterprise messaging provider Slack Technologies Inc. and blood-testing company Guardant Health Inc.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. made an investment of over US$100 million in Indian short video app VMate, KrASIA reported, citing 36Kr. Launched by Alibaba unit UCWeb Inc. in 2017, VMate will join the Chinese tech giant's innovative business group, which oversees products such as team cooperation tool Dingtalk, smart speaker Tmall Genie and operating system AliOS.

* Apple Inc. defended its App Store following criticism by companies such as Spotify Technology SA over the company's practices and policies. The tech giant said it takes responsibility for its App Store and seeks to ensure that all apps follow its guidelines to provide a safe experience for users. Apple added that it rejects apps for any content or behavior that violates its policies and puts the security and privacy of its users at risk.


* The INDIGO subsea cable system, a joint project of AARNet Pty. Ltd., Google LLC, Indosat Ooredoo, Singtel, SubPartners Pty. Ltd. and Telstra Corp. Ltd., is now ready to be deployed by consortium members. Spanning 9,200 kilometers, the INDIGO cable system will strengthen connectivity between Australia and Southeast Asian markets by providing lower latency and more reliable communication services.


* OKWAVE Inc., a Japanese Q&A social community operator, formed a capital and business alliance with U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange startup CoinZoom Securities LLC. Under the deal, OkWave will purchase series AA preferred stocks from CoinZoom and conduct joint marketing campaigns.

* TV TOKYO Communications Corp. struck a capital deal with local influencer marketing service company RERAISE Co. Ltd. Under the tie-up, TV Tokyo will use RERAISE's roster of influencers to offer video marketing content.


* The Korea Association of Game Industry expressed its objection to the World Health Organization's designation of gaming disorder as a disease and called for an immediate withdrawal of the classification, ZDNet Korea reported. K-Games argued that the designation had no scientific grounds and claimed that the classification was pushed by political pressure. The association also criticized the local health authority's attempt to follow suit and adopt the WHO designation in South Korea.

* SK Broadband is expanding the content slate of its IPTV service B tv by adding new offerings such as children educational programs, health and fitness programs and online discount coupons, The Korea Herald reported.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Exynos Auto 8890 processor will be installed on Audi AG's upcoming A4 model, Digital Daily reported. The processor will power Audi's modular infotainment system which provides driving information and vehicle status, as well as entertainment services.


* Rogers Communications Inc. Vice Chairman Philip Lind told Bloomberg News that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. should be banned from Canada's 5G network. While Huawei is "cheaper and sophisticated" compared with other alternatives, its close relationship to the Chinese government is "troubling," Lind said.

* Huawei secured a certification from China's National Quality Certification Center for its 55-inch and 65-inch TVs, Firstpost's Tech2 reported. The Chinese telecom equipment maker's TV lineup, which will be equipped with features such as dual cameras, games and social media, will reportedly be launched by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, TCL Corp. will continue to supply to Huawei's TV business, according to China Securities Journal.

* In other Huawei news, the company built a research center in Hefei, the capital of east China's Anhui province, that will focus on innovation in 5G, artificial intelligence and building a digital government, Xinhuanet reported.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. launched a product similar to Google Slides, which offers a variety of templates and allows users to share and co-edit. The product is part of Tencent Document, which was launched in 2018.

* In other Tencent news, the company sued Toutiao's video streaming platform Xigua for streaming its video game "CrossFire" without authorization, 36Kr reported. Tencent applied for a court ban that orders Toutiao to delete all "CrossFire" related videos.

* Taiwan-based chipmaker MediaTek Inc. unveiled a 5G chip for fast, high-end smartphones in a bid to target the more powerful phones currently supplied by Qualcomm, Reuters reported. The newly released chip combines modem with SoftBank Group Corp.-owned Arm Holdings' processor core technology.

* Alibaba's cloud subsidiary, Alibaba Cloud Computing Co., partnered with SoftBank's Chinese telecom unit and U.S.-based WeWork Companies Inc., to roll out a platform to help cloud-based international businesses scale in China, Alizila reported.


* Ericsson is considering modifying its provisions in business deals to avoid situations such as the one it is currently facing with Reliance Communications Ltd., The Economic Times (India) reported, citing PTI. The Swedish telecom-gear maker sued the Indian telco to recover dues worth about 15 billion Indian rupees, of which it managed to receive only 5.5 billion rupees.


* Singapore-based MediaCorp Pte. Ltd. struck a deal with South Korea's CJ ENM CO. Ltd. to bring hit Korean movies to Mediacorp's digital video platform Toggle under the tvN Movies label. Under the tie-up, Toggle users will have access to Korean classics and contemporary dramas, as well as new titles every month.

* Axiata Group Bhd. will continue working with Huawei on its current 5G Innovation Hub project in Malaysia despite the U.S. ban on Huawei, The Star Online reported.

* Following the U.S. government's decision to blacklist Huawei, smartphone retailers in Thailand said that the Chinese brand's sales have dropped by as much as 50%, Thairath reported. Meanwhile, Thailand's smartphone sales are likely to shrink by as much as 4% this year, according to Bangkok Post. The phone replacement cycle is expected to change to 24 months to 36 months from 18 months.

* Spring News Corp. Co. Ltd. is likely to be the first Thai digital TV operator to cease operations following the country's telecom license return scheme, Prachachat reported. The station is expected to go off air in August.


* New Zealand's Commerce Commission started a public consultation on Infratil Ltd.'s proposed acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand Ltd. In a statement on its preliminary view of the deal, the regulator said it is concerned about the possible impact on competition, given that Infratil already owns 51% of Trustpower Ltd.


Data Dispatch: Bidders lining up for Boost Mobile amid ongoing Sprint/T-Mobile deal review: The CEOs of at least two smaller wireless players are already arranging separate offers for Boost, according to interviews with S&P Global Market Intelligence, though any deal hinges on the uncertain regulatory outlook for the Sprint/T-Mobile merger.


Economics of Internet: Netflix, Hulu lead Q1'19 viewing as OTT space expands: New year, new launches, subscribers and additional ways to bundle over-the-top — we analyze Comscore Video Metrix viewership data for first-quarter 2019 to gauge the performance of some of the top players in the over-the-top space.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Hyegyu Park, Frances Wang, Kevin Osmond 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.