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Kwesé takes stake in iflix; Bahrain in talks to invest in SoftBank Vision Fund

TOP NEWS

* Econet Media Ltd.-owned pay TV operator Kwesé acquired a "significant stake" in the African business of Malaysian streaming service iflix. The transaction will allow Kwesé to include iflix Africa in its mobile offering for customers across its footprint in sub-Saharan Africa, while also expanding the reach of iflix in the region.

* Mumtalakat, Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund, is in talks to invest in SoftBank Group Corp.'s US$93 billion Vision Fund, Reuters reports. The Bahrain fund reportedly has a portfolio valued at more than $10 billion.

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* AsiaSat promoted Lara Kwok to vice president of business development and strategy following the retirement of Sabrina Cubbon. Kwok, who joined AsiaSat in 2017 as director of business development and strategy, previously worked for The Longreach Group as principal of the Greater China investment team.

JAPAN

* Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. announced that it will buy back up to 31 million, or 1.57% of its shares, worth roughly ¥150 billion in a drive to boost investor returns as the company is facing increasing competition.

* Nintendo Co. Ltd., and other leading digital video game platforms are violating consumer rights by not offering ways to cancel pre-ordered games, the Norwegian Consumer Council said, adding that only Origin and Steam had adequate systems in place for refunding purchased video games.

* Rakuten Inc. subsidiary Rakuten Communications Corp. is partnering with U.K.-based cloud communications provider Content Guru to deliver connect storm cloud contact center solutions in the Japanese market.

* Hitachi Ltd. and Hitachi Asia (Thailand) Co. Ltd. announced they will work with Thailand Post Co. Ltd. to develop a digital postal service that will allow users to receive official notifications through their smartphones and computers.

SOUTH KOREA

* Naver Corp. plans to enter the global search engine market this year, starting with Japan and some Southeast Asian countries where its LINE messenger service is showing strong performance, Money Today reports. The South Korean internet company said it will cooperate closely with its Japanese subsidiary LINE Corp. to decide on the direction and details of the new service.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. is set to commercialize its LTE Cat.M1 network in April to complete its internet of things portfolio, along with its LTE-M and LoRa networks, ET News reports. The deployment of the technology will enable the South Korean telco to use different networks for different types of IoT services.

* Kakao Corp. plans to add a translation chatbot to its KakaoTalk Plus Friend service by the end of February, allowing users to get immediate translation support, Financial News reports. The company also plans to introduce the translation function to other Kakao services, such as their web portal, smart speaker and Kakao TV.

* KT Corp. will showcase what it claims as the world's first fully wireless virtual reality game, "Special Force VR," at the Mobile World Congress 2018, Digital Times reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Deutsche Telekom AG, Intel Corp. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. successfully conducted a 5G interoperability and development testing based on the 3GPP R15 standard with a commercial base station in an operator lab environment.

* Huawei Technologies will increase chip consumption from its subsidiary HiSilicon Technologies, with an aim to have more than half of its devices built with HiSilicon's chip systems this year, Economic Daily News reports.

* LE Corp., a Hong Kong arm of embattled Chinese conglomerate LeEco Inc., has been ordered to close down its operations, South China Morning Post reports. The High Court order came after LE Corp. filed a petition to liquidate its business in December 2017.

* China raked in 4.5 billion yuan in box office in the first five days of the Chinese New Year holidays, Sina reports. Movie ticket sales on the first day of the Chinese New Year rose 50% to 1.26 billion yuan, supported by the new trend of watching movies over the Chinese New Year.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Idea Cellular Ltd. said its capital raising committee approved an issue price of 82.50 Indian rupees per equity share for issuing 424.24 million shares through a qualified institutional placement to raise as much as 35 billion rupees. The committee also approved the closure of the fundraising on Feb. 21.

* Reliance Jio will invest 100 billion rupees in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh over the next three years, The Economic Times reports, citing Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.

* Amazon.com Inc. struck a deal with Indian music label T-Series to add its content catalog of more than 150,000 tracks to Amazon Prime Music, which will be launched soon in India, Television Post reports.

* Google Inc. expanded its regional language support in India by adding the Tamil language for its advertising products Google AdWords and Google AdSense.

* Pakistan Telecommunication Co. Ltd. renewed its fiber leasing agreement with Telenor Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd., under which PTCL will deliver fiber footprint to Telenor Pakistan.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Sony Crackle's crime drama "The Oath" is headed to the Southeast Asian streaming service HOOQ. Debuting with all 10 episodes on March 8 in the U.S., the series will be fully available on HOOQ from March 9, Rapid TV News reports.

* French music streaming service Deezer S.A. is partnering with Singtel to make its music catalog available in Singapore through Singtel Music.

* Thai telco Advanced Info Service Public Co. Ltd. will invest up to 38 billion baht this year in internet of things networks, local content production and upgrades to its mobile and broadband infrastructure, Prachachat reports.

* Indonesian telco infrastructure company PT Sarana Menara Nusantara Tbk announced a plan to pay a dividend up to 1.5 trillion Indonesian rupiah, subject to shareholders' approval.

* Thailand's state telco TOT will be fined 400,000 baht per day from Feb. 25 for being behind schedule in the rollout of high-speed broadband to villages in the north and northeast of Thailand, Manager reports.

* Indonesian telco XL Axiata expanded its data services network in the Sumatra and Celebes islands. Yessie Yosetya, XL's director of technology, said the company plans to build infrastructure to support its data services network in areas including those outside the Java Island.

* LINE TV plans to be Thailand's number one online video platform this year, after growing its advertising revenue by more than 100% in 2017, Daily News reports. LINE TV now has 161 content partners, up 90% since 2016.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Fairfax Media Ltd. reported revenue of A$877.1 million for the half-year to December 2017, down 3.9% from the prior corresponding period. Net profit after tax decreased to $38.5 million from $83.7 million in the prior corresponding period. Fairfax CEO and managing director Greg Hywood said the company will "take advantage" of any media consolidation opportunities. Hywood also announced plans to exit around 35% of its New Zealand print publications through sale or closure.

* Spark New Zealand Ltd. said it upgraded its Lightbox streaming platform and will soon launch Lightbox Movies, an on-demand pay-per-view movie service. Lightbox will also launch a tiered service for Lightbox TV, allowing customers to choose between standard and premium subscription.

FEATURED NEWS

Q&A: Former FCC commissioner weighs in as states challenge agency on net neutrality: After the Federal Communications Commission voted to eliminate its net neutrality rules, more than two dozen states moved to implement their own protections. Former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell discusses the pending battle between the two sides.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Multichannel Trends: 2017 VOD title counts boast big increases: The average title count for the major cable operators and Verizon FiOS, according to surveyed responses and published reports, topped 93,000 selections per month at the end of 2017.

RECENT EARNINGS

DISH execs tout 2017 Sling growth, talk impact of Disney/Fox deal: For the first time in Sling's history, DISH separately disclosed its DISH TV and Sling TV subscribers, ending 2017 with 13.2 million pay TV subscribers, including 11.0 million DISH TV subscribers and 2.2 million Sling TV subscribers.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, 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.