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Baidu's iQiyi files for $1.5B US IPO; Google, Airtel to offer low-cost 4G phones

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Baidu's iQiyi files for $1.5B US IPO; Google, Airtel to offer low-cost 4G phones

TOP NEWS

* Baidu Inc.'s iQiyi.com Inc. filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. of up to US$1.5 billion of its class A ordinary shares. The company, which has applied to list its American depositary shares on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol IQ, has not yet specified the number of shares or price range for the IPO. Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc., China Renaissance Securities (Hong Kong) Ltd., Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and UBS Securities LLC are serving as underwriters for the offering.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc. are partnering to offer Android Go-powered, low-cost 4G smartphones in India, under Airtel's Mera Pehla Smartphone program, NDTV reports. Shipping of the entry-level 4G devices will start in March. Mobile manufacturers Lava International Ltd. and Micromax Informatics Ltd. will make the first set of 4G devices powered by Android Go.

* Rakuten Inc. applied for a cellular frequency band with Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications as it seeks to become the country's fourth mobile network operator, The Nikkei reports. The move comes less than three months after the Japanese e-commerce company announced its plan to move into the telecommunications industry, taking on Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.'s NTT Docomo, KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp.'s SoftBank Telecom Corp.

* State-owned BSNL is eyeing a 4G service launch across India by year-end, with an investment of 250 billion rupees, Press Trust of India reports, citing BSNL Chairman and Managing Director Anupam Shrivastava, who said that the company is "awaiting spectrum allocation from the government in 2100 MHz band to launch 4G VOLTE service."

Mobile World Congress 2018

* Telecom leaders attending the Mobile World Congress have warned that too much regulation in the industry is undermining operators' ability to invest in future networks. Industry bosses argue that declining revenues in what remains a highly capital-intensive market has made it challenging to fund costly infrastructure projects and develop 5G networks.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unit Alibaba Cloud Computing Company expanded its European push as it launched eight new products in the region, covering areas such as big data, artificial intelligence, infrastructure and security.

* Manoj Sinha, Indian telecom minister, told reporters on the sidelines of the MWC that the Indian government will align the country's spectrum prices with that of the rest of the world and "adopt global best practices on spectrum pricing." The minister said the government will outline the spectrum pricing goals and objectives in the National Telecom Policy 2018, The Economic Times (India) reports.

JAPAN

* Online marketplace operator eBay Inc. is nearing a deal to acquire the Japanese assets of e-commerce site Qoo10 from its joint venture partner Giosis Pte. Ltd. for US$700 million, Bloomberg News reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. The source said that as part of the potential transaction, California-based eBay would shed its stake in Singapore-based Giosis.

* Fujitsu Ltd. announced it will provide NTT Docomo with base station hardware geared toward the launch of 5G technologies in 2020.

* Docomo Digital Ltd., the mobile payments arm of NTT Docomo, announced a partnership with Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom Ltd. to allow customers to make payments on the Google Play Store using the M-PESA money transfer service.

* NTT Docomo joined AT&T Inc., China Mobile Communications Corp., Deutsche Telekom AG and Orange SA in launching the Open Radio Access Network alliance, a global initiative for greater openness in next-generation wireless systems.

SOUTH KOREA

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is planning to launch its AI speaker in the second half of this year, with the aim of connecting all Samsung devices to it based on Internet of Things technologies, ZDNet Korea reports. The Samsung Group unit is also working on making a significant platform change to its upcoming Bixby 2.0.

* KT Corp. signed a memorandum of understanding with Switzerland-based virtual reality service provider SecondWorld to supply VR platform and VR attraction content in Switzerland, Yonhap News Agency reports. The South Korean telco plans to expand its reach to other European markets.

* Naver Corp. combined its web document and website tabs in its search function to provide integrated search results, iNews 24 reports. The company said that the change helps improve user access to external web documents and diversifies its search coverage.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Alibaba Group's logistics arm Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd. deployed blockchain technologies to track cross-border shipping generated by Alibaba's global e-commerce platform Tmall Global, Cnstock reports.

* Chinese news app Toutiao bought Vscene, a Beijing-based startup that develops software for VR videos, JRJ reports. Financial details were not disclosed.

* Esim Technology Co. Ltd., a Hangzhou, China-based startup for smart card technologies, received a 20-million-yuan investment in its angel round fundraising, iHeima reports. The company plans to use the funding for research and development, system optimization and customer service.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Google integrated its mobile payments app Tez with the State Bank of India, Press Trust of India reports. The two will also work on a furthering the adoption of digital payments in India.

* Facebook Inc.'s WhatsApp Inc. also launched a mobile money transfer service in India, Telecompaper reports.

* Network18-backed online entertainment and ticketing platform BookMyShow teamed up with Walt Disney Co. for the production of the Broadway musical "Aladdin" in India, The Economic Times (India) reports.

* Vodafone India is now the second carrier to stop most interconnect services across all circles in India to Aircel Ltd., following Idea Cellular Ltd., as the beleaguered telco fails to pay its outstanding dues, The Economic Times (India) reports.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* A+E Networks launched its first international digital studio in Singapore under the A+E Digital International Initiative, TBI Vision reports.

* Indonesian media company PT Global Mediacom Tbk formed a joint venture, through its subsidiary PT Sky Vision Network, that will operate a pay TV service in Malaysia, according to the company's filing on the Indonesian Stock Exchange. Sky Vision Network, which formed the joint venture with Dato' Dr. Tengku Rethwan bin Tengku Mansor and Ahmad Nizam bin Ibrahim, invested 1.6 million Malaysian ringgit in the venture.

* Apigate, the subsidiary of Malaysia-based Axiata Digital Services Sdn. Bhd., partnered with French telco operator Orange SA to boost their respective API hubs in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The APIs will enable deliveries of new services, such as communication and mobile payment.

* Robi Axiata Ltd., the Bangladeshi subsidiary of Axiata Group Bhd., had its bank accounts frozen by the Bangladeshi National Board of Revenue, The Daily Star reports. The account freezing was carried out following allegations against the company that it evaded 187.2 million taka in value-added tax and supplementary duty.

* Thai satellite operator Thaicom Public Co. Ltd. launched Nava, a new maritime service suite designed to address connectivity limitations at sea and diversify the company's revenue streams, Manager reports. Nava is a fiber-to-ship platform that can connect passengers and crew to high-speed internet throughout Asia-Pacific via Thaicom's broadband satellite.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s involvement in new 5G mobile networks in Australia will need to undergo a full national security assessment by the country's Home Affairs Department, despite holding a position in a government-led 5G working group, The Australian Financial Review reports, citing a spokesman for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield.

* Sky Network Television Ltd. slashed its entry price to NZ$24.91 a month as it seeks to shore up its customer base, Stuff reports. The pay TV operator will cut its Sky Basic service into two, providing customers with an option to subscribe for a limited number of channels.

FEATURED NEWS

As Comcast looks to expand international footprint, bidding war for Sky looms: U.S. cable giant Comcast has revealed ambitious plans to extend its international footprint with a rival bid for Sky, challenging 21st Century Fox's efforts to take control of the British pay TV giant.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of Internet: Broadcast nets measure the importance of mobile viewing in 2017: For the broadcast entities that measured non-desktop online content viewing in 2017, it is clear that mobile and connected-TV devices were important and drove significant amounts of viewing, according to comScore Video Metrix data.

Technology: OTT user experience determined in part by the app: With an increasing number of over-the-top offerings available to consumers, the usability of the applications becomes an important differentiator for providers.

RECENT EARNINGS

Discovery eyes US, global OTT opportunities following close of Scripps deal: Discovery CEO David Zaslav told analysts that the programmer is speaking with telco giants about differentiated content offerings for their mobile services.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, 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.