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China's Didi Chuxing raises $4B; Huawei partners with Baidu, Nokia

TOP NEWS

* Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing Technology Co. Ltd. said it has raised US$4 billion in its latest equity funding round. The Uber Technologies Inc. rival, which is expected to go public in 2018, said that it plans to use the funds to scale up investments in artificial intelligence talent and technologies and build up its intelligent driving and smart transportation capabilities.

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Baidu Inc. inked a strategic partnership to leverage Baidu's AI ability and Huawei's client base for internet, content, and AI platform development. The duo will build an open AI system based on Huawei's HiAI platform and Baidu's PaddlePaddle deep learning platform and will deepen vocal and graphical technology collaboration.

* The 3rd Generation Partnership Project, or 3GPP, completed the first implementable 5G New Radio standard, setting the stage for the global mobile industry to begin full-scale development of 5G NR for large-scale tests and commercial deployments as early as 2019. Meanwhile, SK Telecom Co. Ltd., Telstra Corp. Ltd., NTT Docomo, AT&T Inc., Sprint Corp., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Ericsson AB, Orange SA, Vodafone Group Plc and Qualcomm Inc.'s Qualcomm Technologies Inc. successfully demonstrated a multivendor interoperability connection that complies with the Non-Standalone 5G NR global 3GPP standard.

* Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd.'s streaming service Voot is gearing up to expand into regional and international markets, as well as launch a premium service in 2018, Gaurav Gandhi, COO of Viacom18 Digital Ventures, told The Economic Times (India).

JAPAN

* Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. unit NTT Docomo Ventures Inc. announced that it has invested in U.S.-based AI imaging developer Fyusion Inc., which allows users to use interactive photography in the form of "fyuse" by recognizing figures, objects and scenery in photographic images. Financial details were not provided.

* Universal Studios Japan, a theme park operated by NBCUniversal LLC's Japan unit USJ Co. Ltd., revealed details of an upcoming new attraction, "Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Miracle 4-D," featuring renowned popular Japanese anime series "Sailor Moon." The 4-D theater show is set to run from March 16 to June 24, 2018, as part of Universal Cool Japan 2018. NBCUniversal is a unit of Comcast Corp.

* DWANGO Co. Ltd., the operator of Japanese video sharing site NicoNico, announced that Nobuo Kawakami will be stepping down as chairman and CTO and will now serve as a director at the company. Kawakami also resigned from NicoNico-related business, which will be lead by Shigetaka Kurita. Kawakami will now focus on launching a new business as well as developing new technologies for the company. DWANGO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Dwango Corp.

* Tokyo-based internet company DeNA Co. Ltd. said it will merge its businesses including driverless taxi service Robot Taxi, Find Travel and Iemo effective March 1, 2018, The Nikkei reports.

* Toshiba Corp. announced that it will set up a new entity, Toshiba Memory Iwate Corp., as well as invest ¥7 billion in fiscal-year 2017 to procure and prepare land in Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture, ahead of planned construction of a new flash memory plant beginning in February 2018.

SOUTH KOREA

* South Korean watchdog Korea Trade Commission started a probe into Apple Inc.'s alleged violation of South Korean patent laws in its application processor for the iPhone and iPad, Digital Times reports. The investigation, expected to last 6 to 10 months, was requested by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology's intellectual property management unit, which argued that its FinFET semiconductor patent was violated by the U.S. smartphone manufacturer.

* South Korean game company PUBG Corp., a subsidiary of Bluehole Studio Inc., officially launched its multiplayer online game "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" via Kakao Games Corp. after 9 months of early access period, Yonhap News Agency reports. Existing users can play the new PC 1.0 version by updating the game without additional payment.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Huawei signed a multiyear smartphone patent license agreement with Nokia Corp., its rival in the networks business. Nokia already has patent agreements with smartphone makers such as Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Xiaomi Inc. and LG, giving it royalty agreements with all the world's mobile device manufacturers, Reuters reports.

* LE Corp. Ltd., a Hong Kong-registered subsidiary of LeEco Group, filed a winding-up petition at the High Court of Hong Kong and will have its liquidation hearing on Feb. 21, 2018, Ming Pao reports. Meanwhile, LeTV Sports Culture Development (Hong Kong) Co., which broadcasts major sports events including the English Premier League and NBA, said on its Facebook page that it operates as a separate entity and is unaffected by the liquidation application.

* China Mobile Ltd. launched its Narrowband-Internet of Things network in Shandong province for commercial use, Xinhua News reports. The company has built more than 10,000 NB-IoT base stations in the province and has pledged to invest more than 500 million yuan in 2018 to build another 30,000 units.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* A special court in India acquitted all 19 accused, including former Telecom Minister A Raja, in a high-profile corruption case involving alleged irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum that shook up the Indian political landscape.

* Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. is geared up to bolster its work with artificial intelligence technologies, with its executive chairman Sachin Bansal telling The Economic Times (India) that more innovation is "coming out of Flipkart next year."

* Wipro Ltd. said it received 341% higher response than the reserved number of equity shares in its buyback process, The Economic Times (India) reports. In September, the company said it would buy back up to 343.75 million fully paid-up equity shares at 320 Indian rupees each.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Thai state enterprise CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd. signed a memorandum of understanding with the country's gas giant PTT Public Co. Ltd. to collaborate on digital technology development and S-curve businesses, Auto Info reports. CAT will also design, develop and manage the PTT Group's telecom infrastructure.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has extended the deadline for picking up digital TV set-top boxes at post offices nationwide to March 31, 2018, VoiceTV reports.

* Chinese mobile device manufacturer Xiaomi Inc. has signed an agreement with Lazada Indonesia, the Indonesian operation of Lazada South East Asia Pte. Ltd., news site Liputan 6 reports. Xiaomi said the partnership will help increase its brand presence on the Southeast Asian e-commerce platform and will also serve as a step to becoming the smartphone leader in Indonesia.

* Indonesian telco XL Axiata is carrying out mass layoffs in a bid to become more competitive, news site CNN Indonesia reports.

* Malaysian telco Axiata Group Bhd.'s digital services arm Axiata Digital and gold trading platforms HelloGold have formed a partnership under which users of Axiata Digital's mobile wallet service Boost can conduct gold transactions, business news site The Edge Markets reports.

* Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc. announced that its Google Play voucher is now available via Indonesian motorcycle ride-hailing app Gojek and e-commerce app Tokopedia, news site Antaranews.com reports. The smallest available nominal amount in those apps would be 20,000 rupiah.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* The Australian federal government has given the Australian Communications and Media Authority oversight of new consumer broadband protections to ensure that national broadband network customers get the service telcos promise them, Australian Associated Press reports.

* Bauer Media KG shut down Australian publication Men's Style, with the next edition to be released in the summer to be the final edition, Mumbrella (Australia) reports.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Some insurtech firms win funds from incumbents, while some go it alone: Some of the world's largest insurers helped raise funds for insurtech startups in 2017, lending more credibility to the space and nudging the industry toward accepting newer technologies like artificial intelligence and big data.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Consumer Insights: Would you subscribe just for original OTT content?: Online subscription video services need to keep a deep catalog of content as less than half of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video users are willing to subscribe just for originals.

Global Multichannel: South Africa a lucrative market despite decreasing subscriber market share: Although South Africa still accounts for almost half of sub-Saharan Africa's multichannel service revenues, its subscriber share has fallen below 30% as the growth of other sub-Saharan African markets, particularly Nigeria, has accelerated.

Broadcast Investor: Deal market November — Large deal volume coming mostly from estimates: U.S. broadcast station deal volume reached an estimated $214.5 million in November, making it the most active month of the year's second half. Over 90% of that total is from station swaps, undisclosed deal volumes and station values of donations.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Wil Hathaway 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.