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Wanda's AMC buys Nordic Cinema; Samsung plans US$8B share buyback

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Wanda's AMC buys Nordic Cinema; Samsung plans US$8B share buyback

TOP NEWS

* AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., the cinema arm of China's Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd., agreed to buy Stockholm-based Nordic Cinema Group Holding AB from European private equity company Bridgepoint and Swedish media group Bonnier Holding in an all-cash transaction valued at US$929 million. With the acquisition, AMC will have 1,000 theaters and 11,000 screens in 15 countries.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. plans to buy back 9.3 trillion South Korean won, or about US$8 billion, of its own shares after profits doubled in the last three months of 2016, Bloomberg News reports. The increase was attributed to strong semiconductor sales and an improvement in Samsung's mobile business.

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* German software vendor SAP SE reported a higher profit for its cloud subscriptions and support revenue in the Asia-Pacific region with growth of 43% for fiscal 2016, ZDNet reports, adding that cloud and software revenue jumped by 6%. The Walldorf-based software company earned overall revenue of €3.38 billion for the region, up from €3 billion the year before.

JAPAN

* Sony Pictures Television Inc. tapped Simplestream, a London-based OTT video provider, to drive its new catch-up service on the British TV platform YouView, according to a press release. The Sony service will use Simplestream's Hybrid TV solution for hosting its children's channels. Sony Pictures Television is a unit of Sony Corp.

* Toshiba Corp.'s board is set to endorse a plan to offload the beleaguered electronics giant's semiconductor business at a Jan. 27 meeting, Jiji Press reports. Toshiba seeks to raise ¥200 billion to ¥300 billion through the sale, which would help rescue it from massive losses from its U.S. nuclear business.

SOUTH KOREA

* Nintendo's augmented reality game "Pokémon Go" launched in South Korea, six months after its original debut, Reuters reports. The delay was caused by security concerns surrounding the game's use of Google Maps, use of which is limited by the South Korean government due to the country's technical state of war with North Korea. "Pokémon Go" is a collaboration between Nintendo, Niantic Inc. and The Pokémon Co.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. signed a contract with Vietnamese telco MobiFone to help it build a nationwide LTE network by 2020. SKT said it will share network simulation technology and co-develop 5G services and Internet of Things network solutions.

* South Korean mobile giant Kakao Corp. launched its webtoon service on the comics platform of Tencent Holdings Ltd., Yonhap News Agency reports. The Tencent platform has 90 million monthly active users.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group picked up a stake in Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal will also see Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., help manufacture bicycles for Mobike.

* Rapper-actor Ice Cube's film production company, Cube Vision, inked a strategic partnership deal with AID Partners, a media investment company founded by Hong Kong entrepreneur Kelvin Wu, Variety reports. AID Partners will become a significant shareholder in Cube Vision and fully fund selected projects, while Ice Cube and Cube Vision CEO Jeff Kwatinetz will remain as majority shareholders and continue to have creative control over projects.

* The government of Guangdong province removed 5,500 illegal apps for publishing unauthorized political information, pornographic and violent content, Xinhua News Agency reports. They were available in app stores run by Chinese tech giants and smartphone producers including Tencent, China Mobile Ltd., Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., ZTE Corp., Coolpad, Meizu, OPPO and VIVO.

* China Central Television (CCTV)(CN) entered into a contract with Eutelsat Communications SA to have three of its flagship channels broadcast across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in high definition. The HD channels, beamed from Eutelsat's HOTBIRD satellites, are available in English and Chinese.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) called a meeting with mobile operators to discuss the termination of 2G services, Prachachat reports. Operators were reminded that official notice must be given before discontinuing 2G services to avoid inconveniencing the country's 700,000 to 800,000 remaining 2G subscribers and lessen the impact on electronics companies still producing 2G equipment.

* Thai mobile broadband company Mobile LTE was awarded a 15-year satellite operations license by the NBTC, The Nation reports. Mobile LTE is now one of only two Thai companies to hold such a license, making it the sole rival of Intouch Holdings subsidiary Thaicom.

* Indonesian telco Tri will not yet start adopting 4.5G technology, but will focus on its 4G service instead, Detik reports. Tri's insufficient frequency to accommodate 4.5G and the low number of compatible devices were among the reasons given for the decision.

* Japan's NEC Corp., together with its unit NEC Philippines Inc., entered into an agreement with Philippine public broadcaster People's Television Network Inc. The deal will see NEC provide digital terrestrial TV equipment to the state broadcaster.

* Thai state-owned telco TOT launched an internal investigation into a suspected bribery scandal involving procurement deals with U.S. company General Cable, Prachachat reports. The company's anti-corruption center was given 15 days to conduct a fact-finding mission into the allegations and report back to management.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian Securities and Investments Commission is investigating allegations of a conflict of interest regarding Tennis Australia's sale of TV rights for the Australian Open to Seven West Media Ltd. According to the Australian Financial Review, the A$200 million broadcast deal was influenced by Harold Mitchell, director and former vice president of Tennis Australia.

* The New York Times is preparing to open an office in Sydney and appointed Damien Cave to head the Australian team, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.

* SoundCloud tapped former Pandora executive Shaun Alexander to become its commercial director for Australia and New Zealand, Mumbrella reports. The music-streaming platform also hired Marta Bonzanini to lead the development of sales strategy for the region.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Vodafone India and Bharti Airtel Ltd. are preparing to invest 60 billion Indian rupees in West Bengal in the next three to five years, The Hindu reports. The telcos are also seeking government permission to put up towers in state-owned buildings in the Indian state.

* India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is seeking equipment details from all 78 TV channels in the country for monitoring, Indian Television reports. The ministry issued a notice regarding the matter in December 2016, but none of the channels have responded.

* STAR India Pvt. Ltd. is preparing to launch a premium, high-definition Hindi film channel in India. Star Gold Select HD will be Star India's first premium channel in Hindi, and is intended for upscale pay TV viewers. The media company has not yet set a launch date.

* Indian ride hailing-service Ola appointed PepsiCo veteran Vishal Kaul as its COO, while appointing current COO Pranay Jivrajika as founding partner, Mint reports.

FEATURED NEWS

Startup Spotlight: FuboTV looks to kick up sub count with expanded OTT offering: The virtual MVPD is eyeing a February bow of an enhanced platform, featuring more entertainment fare and a broader sports portfolio.

Data Dispatch: Charter pushes Priceline from ranking of top 10 media, communications companies: Charter Communications displaced Priceline Group as the tenth largest media and communications company by market capitalization for the second half of 2016, following Charter's completion of two massive deals in May 2016.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Media & Communications Quarterly Industry Presentations — Q4'16: SNL Kagan's latest quarterly presentation reports, examining industry trends and data for the Internet Media & OTT, Programming & Film, Technology, U.S. Multichannel, Global Multichannel & Connected Devices, Broadcast, Advertising and TV Network sectors.

Wireless Investor: Incentive auction bidders refuse to be rushed: Round 5 of Stage 4 in the forward auction ended with $18.41 billion in usable bids as the Trump administration is expected to make a fast turn into a more relaxed regulatory mode and eyes are on possible M&A opportunities.

Broadcast Investor: Retrans database update adds survey of FCC consent elections: As retrans activity begins to pick up in the new year, we've included with our database a recently conducted survey of FCC retrans consent election letters in the TV station public files for all of 2015 and 2016 and as of Jan. 23 for 2017.

Joji Sakurai, Sunny Um, Emily Lai, Patrick Tibke and Ed Eduard 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.