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Foxconn considers $7B plant in US; Sony mulls sale of film, TV unit

TOP NEWS

* Foxconn Technology Group, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., is considering an investment of more than US$7 billion to build a display plant in the U.S., Reuters reports, citing company chairman and CEO Terry Gou. A plan would be made with its affiliate Sharp Corp., and would also need to be negotiated at U.S. state and federal levels.

* Sony Corp. is weighing a potential sale of its film and TV business following pitches from banks, the New York Post reported, citing sources. CBS Corp. is keen on acquiring Sony division Sony Pictures, with several Chinese bidders also reportedly eyeing the asset.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s investigation into the cause of fires in its discontinued Galaxy Note 7 smartphone found that irregularly sized batteries and manufacturing problems were the cause, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The company is expected to officially release the results of the probe Jan. 23.

JAPAN

* Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. hired Amazon.com Inc. to provide cloud-based computing for its information technology system, according to The Nikkei. The move, which makes MUFG the first Japanese bank to switch to internet computing, is expected to save the group about ¥10 billion.

* Panasonic Corp. plans to expand its alliance with Tesla Motors Inc. beyond batteries into driverless car technology, according to Reuters. Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga said in an interview that he wants to jointly develop self-driving car devices with Tesla, including sensors.

* Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said he is not considering a bailout for struggling electronics giant Toshiba Corp., which faces massive losses from its U.S. nuclear business, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Reuters also reports that Toshiba is preparing to offload a stake in its core chip business.

SOUTH KOREA

* Foreign and institutional investors sold Samsung Electronics stock worth 352 billion South Korean won from Jan. 2 to Jan. 20, Yonhap News Agency reports. The large-scale trade was reportedly driven by investors' growing concern over the arrest warrant that had been sought for Samsung Group heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, coupled with stock price increases stemming from the company's positive performance in its semiconductor business.

* South Korean internet giant Naver is starting the second beta test of its artificial intelligence-based web browser Whale, Financial News reports. The test will reportedly be run among 30,000 participants, a pool twice as big as that for the first test conducted in December 2016.

* South Korean telco SK Telecom Co. Ltd. and Nokia Corp. successfully developed MCPTT (mission-critical push to talk) advanced wireless communication solutions for disaster and emergency situations, Chosun Biz reports. MCPTT reportedly provides better communication quality and speeds twice as fast than the existing push-to-talk solution.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* The sports unit of Chinese tech and media company LeEco obtained 3 billion yuan in funding from its potential second-largest shareholder, Sohu reports, citing Sun Hongbin, chairman of newly added investor Sunac China. He said LeEco would cut down on copyright spending this year and will not broadcast the Chinese Super League.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. invested US$6 million in Lumus, an augmented reality lens maker in Israel, Sina reports, quoting the Israeli daily Calcalist. This is Alibaba's second investment in AR in a year; analysts reportedly believe the e-commerce giant will apply the technology to enhance shopping experiences.

* HK01, a Chinese-language weekly newspaper focused on in-depth reporting and news analysis in Hong Kong, announced an interim suspension of its print edition for restructuring, Apple Daily reports. Sources said there were no layoffs, and printing will resume in the future with the newspaper's price lowered from HK$20 to HK$10.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Philippine broadcaster TV5 struck a five-year deal with FIBA for exclusive broadcast rights to national team competitions as well as coverage of the Continental Cups and the FIBA Basketball World Cup from 2017 to 2021. The partnership applies to all platforms such as free TV, pay TV, online and mobile.

* Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics said that Apple Inc.'s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be available in the country before the Samsung Galaxy S8 debuts, Indowarta reports. Given that the Galaxy S8 will be available in April, the iPhone models will be most likely to become available in Indonesia in February or March.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) launched an SMS-based system that allows mobile users to switch providers and keep their current phone number in a two-day process, Positioning Mag reports. Thai telco Dtac confirmed that, following the launch of the new system Jan. 20, its customer service centers have started processing transfer requests from subscribers.

* In other NBTC news, Chanchai Isarasaenarak, a prominent member of Thailand's Democrat Party, accused the regulator of failing to enforce its upper limit of 1.50 baht per minute on mobile phone tariffs, Manager reports. Chanchai also called on the NBTC to introduce new regulations stipulating that network operators must calculate call charges only on a per-second basis due to the number of customers who have complained about being overcharged under the current system.

* Thailand's Samart Corp., the parent company of Samart Telcoms, announced the launch of a new digital restructuring program for 2017 known as SAMART 4.0, Manager reports. By restructuring Samart Telcoms into three units — telecom networking infrastructure, enhanced technology, and business applications — Samart Corp. aims to turn a profit of 2 billion baht this year.

* The Independent Indonesian Digital Cooperative is preparing three concepts for locally-made smartphones called Digicoop, Kompas.com reports. Although the first model has low specifications of a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM, the next two models will reportedly have higher specifications.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Dentsu Aegis Network expanded its global media investment arm Amplifi into New Zealand and appointed Richard Pook as head of Amplifi NZ, effective Feb. 13. In his new role, Pook will lead investment and manage local and global media partnerships for the New Zealand group.

* Michelle Guthrie, managing director of Australian Broadcasting Corp., is considering appointing a director of content, The Australian reports. The potential management shake-up at the ­public broadcaster could reportedly see ABC restructure its TV, radio and online functions under the new position.

* Australian operator Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd. is investing A$3.5 million more to upgrade its 3G and 4G mobile network coverage in Taree and Forster-Tuncurry, New South Wales.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Reliance Industries Ltd., parent company of Reliance Jio Infocomm, is in talks to raise up to US$2.25 billion through offshore debt issuances as it seeks to build a war chest for its telecom unit, as well as replace current high-cost borrowings, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. is contemplating mergers or stake sales for some of its units in Africa as it tries to reduce debt, Bloomberg News reports. It has businesses in 15 nations across Africa, some of which could potentially be affected, said Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

* Indian multiplex operator PVR Cinemas launched a theater-on-demand service called Vkaao, the Press Trust of India reports. It enables users to watch any film of their choice at their desired theater for a minimum of 50 confirmed seats per show.

* Alibaba Group-owned mobile web browser company UCWeb will invest 2 billion rupees in India and Indonesia over the next two years to increase user-generated content via its UC News operations. UCWeb is looking to add more than 30,000 self-publishers, bloggers and opinion leaders to UC News' We-Media platform this year.

FEATURED NEWS

MarketWeek: Netflix scores big on sub gains; T-Mobile swings up amid M&A talk: Shares of T-Mobile saw a boost as M&A speculation swirled, while Netflix saw gains on positive earnings during the week.

Data Dispatch: Charter leads EPS expectations for large-cap communications companies in Q4'16: Charter Communications is expected to see large gains in its reported earnings per share and revenue in the wake of the company's recent acquisitions. The outlook is more mixed for other large-cap communications companies.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: MOWs up, theatricals down for broadcast in 2016: Made-for-TV movies ("movies of the week," or MOWs) seem to be making a slow comeback on the broadcast networks, with a 71% rise in airings during 2016.

Economics of Advertising: Nielsen partners with AT&T/DIRECTV on set-top box data: In a major victory for Nielsen, the company signed a deal with AT&T to license set-top box data from DIRECTV and U-verse subscribers.

Global Multichannel: Super Bowl free-to-air distribution integral to NFL's global growth strategy: The Super Bowl is the pinnacle event in the U.S. sporting calendar, responsible for almost all of the top televised sports ratings and total audience records.

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.