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SoftBank, Toyota forming mobility JV; ZTE hit with 2-year monitoring extension

TOP NEWS

* Toyota Motor Corp. and SoftBank Group Corp. agreed to form a joint venture for new mobility services that will seek to optimize supply and demand in transportation. The planned JV, which the companies named Monet Technologies Corp., will be focused on on-demand mobility service, data analysis service and autonomous mobility-as-a-service business. SoftBank will hold 50.25% of Monet, while Toyota will hold the remaining 49.75%. The companies will each invest ¥2 billion in the venture, with plans to increase investment to ¥10 billion in the future.

* A U.S. judge extended the term of a monitor appointed to assess ZTE Corp.'s compliance with U.S. export control laws. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas extended the monitor's term by two years, until 2022. The extension came after ZTE was found to have violated probation imposed in March 2017, when it pleaded guilty to shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

JAPAN

* Sharp Corp. will use organic LED panels in its new smartphones that will be launched later this year, with plans to sell the screens to other manufacturers, Reuters reports. The move is part of the company's effort to catch up with rival Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

* NEC Corp. responded to artificial intelligence privacy issues by launching a new division specializing in strategies to guarantee digital privacy, according to ZDNet Japan. The company established the division amid global debate over guidelines on ensuring coexistence between human and artificial intelligence.

SOUTH KOREA

* SK Hynix Inc. plans to invest 20 trillion won in M15, its newly opened chip manufacturing plant, Korea JoongAng Daily reports. The new plant will concentrate on manufacturing NAND flash, a nonvolatile storage chip that does not require power to retain data. Mass production at the facility is scheduled to begin in early 2019.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. is considering an acquisition of SK Group's security unit SK Infosec Co. Ltd., Asia Economy reports. According to a source, the telco is trying to strengthen its information security capacity following the acquisition of the local security company ADT Caps Co. Ltd.

* AfreecaTV Co. Ltd. launched Pod Freeka, a podcast app, Yonhap News Agency reports. The app is currently available in Google LLC's Play Store and will be available in Apple Inc.'s App Store within this month.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. bought back 124,000 shares for a total purchase price of HK$38.35 million. The company has been buying back shares for 18 days and has so far repurchased 2.04 million shares for HK$650 million.

* Chinese esports company FEG secured nearly 100 million yuan in its preseries A funding round led by China Sports Capital, China Money Network reports. SAIF Partners and venture capital firm Sea of Stars Capital also participated in the round.

* Ctrip.com International Ltd. will allow Ctrip customers who are traveling overseas to book a ride on its app after partnering with London-based ride-hailing marketplace Splyt, South China Morning Post reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. is acquiring the core team of Bengaluru-based AI startup AuthMe Id Services Pvt. Ltd. The transaction will also see Airtel acquiring the intellectual property rights of AuthMe's flagship solutions Callup AI and Fintech OCR.

* Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd.'s Viacom18 Studios unveiled plans to ramp up its content slate by releasing 17 films across eight languages by 2020, Television Post reports.

* Xiaomi Corp. will now manufacture its Mi LED TVs in India in partnership with Dixon Technologies (India) Ltd., IANS reports.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Investors led by KKR & Co. and Tencent Holdings agreed to acquire a substantial minority stake in Philippine digital technology company Voyager Innovations Inc. for as much as US$175 million. Each of the investors will separately purchase newly issued shares in Voyager Innovations, a unit of Philippine telecom operator PLDT Inc.

* Google plans to launch its cloud computing service Google Cloud in Indonesia in the "near future," CNBC Indonesia reports.

* Passpod, an Indonesian modem rental provider, aims to raise around 40 billion rupiah through an IPO by the end of this year, IndoTelko reports.

* Thai media conglomerate Mono Technology PCL will invest 1.2 billion baht for content development this year, Prachachat reports. The company is aiming for its Mono29 digital TV channel to be the second-most watched channel in Thailand.

* GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. entered into a partnership with Fave, formerly Groupon Singapore Ltd., under which Fave will bring onboard merchants for GrabFood and GrabPay in Singapore and Malaysia, The Straits Times reports. The tie-up will also see Fave adding GrabPay to its platform.

* Total Access Communication PCL, or Dtac, launched Farm Man Yum, a new suite of app-based agronomy services in partnership with agritech startup Ricult Inc. and app developer Rak Ban Kerd. Farm Man Yum offers services such as personalized weather forecasts and crop health monitoring.

* CAT Telecom PCL will set up a Google Station-CAT WiFi hub to service the international motorcycle racing competition MotoGP in Thailand, Prachachat reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* JCDecaux SA's acquisition of APN Outdoor Group Ltd. has been approved by the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.

FEATURED NEWS

Lawyers: Legal forecast uncertain for broadcast streaming service Locast: The local broadcast streaming service Locast.org is still going strong after almost one year of service and plans to expand further. While some believe the site's success thus far proves it is legal, others say broadcasters will quash the service.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Technology: ZTE's absence allows others to prosper in Q2'18 North American smartphone market: Lenovo's market share has more than doubled as it became the primary beneficiary of ZTE's temporary exit from the smartphone market in the second quarter.

Broadcast Investor: Radio in transition phase as podcasting, smart speakers show growth potential: While core advertising remains tepid in 2018 and debt leverage for major station groups is still too high, radio retains its local influence and leadership position in the car despite growth in streaming audio alternatives.

Joji Sakurai, Nicole Kim, Emily Lai, Kevin Osmond 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. Links are current as of publication time, and we are not responsible if those links are unavailable later.