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Apple calls India talks 'constructive'; Nokia to boost Asian networks

TOP NEWS

* Apple Inc. said its talks with the Indian government about further expanding its local operations were "constructive," Reuters reports, citing a company statement. The talks came as the tech giant sought tax concessions and policy exceptions to bring its manufacturing operations to India.

* Nokia Corp. signed two mobile network modernization and extension deals in Asia. The Finnish telco entered a €30 million deal with Bangladeshi operator Teletalk to enhance its 2G and 3G coverage in rural areas, and improve service in urban regions. It also signed an agreement with Cellcard in Cambodia to improve the operator's 3G and LTE network by deploying about 1,500 new sites in different areas and provinces outside of Phnom Penh.

JAPAN

* SoftBank Group Corp. announced a merger of its wholly-owned subsidiaries SoftBank Group International GK and SoftBank Group Japan GK. SoftBank Group International will be the surviving unit, while SoftBank Group Japan will be dissolved.

* Panasonic Corp. is hoping to boost TV sales in Indonesia by 50%, largely on the back of online shopping, Kyodo News reports. The Japanese electronics giant launched a website to help Indonesian consumers choose TV models.

* Japanese messaging app operator LINE Corp. announced it returned to profit with group net earnings of ¥7.6 billion at the end of 2016, against a roughly equivalent loss in 2015. Profits were driven by advertising demand on the messaging app.

SOUTH KOREA

* A political dispute with China over South Korea's decision to deploy an anti-missile system is hampering business for Korean mobile games in China, Digital Times reports, citing gaming industry sources. China is reportedly delaying the issuance of publishing licenses for Korean games indefinitely; previously, licenses were issued within one to two months after applications were submitted.

* LG Electronics Inc.'s Mobile Communications unit reported 2.9 trillion South Korean won in revenue and an operating loss of 467 billion won in the fourth quarter of 2016. The company said revenue was up 15.4% quarter-to-quarter thanks to good sales of the V20 premium smartphone, while the loss was due to low sales of the G5 smartphone and marketing investments for the V20.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. announced that its smartwatch-based identity authentication technology has been certified by the FIDO Alliance, a global consortium for online security certification. The technology can be used for transactions on online banking sites.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Dadi Media, a subsidiary of Nan Hai Corp. Ltd., announced that it will acquire the Chinese cinema business of Hong Kong's Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment Holdings Ltd. for 3.38 billion Chinese yuan. Upon completion, Dadi will operate 426 cinemas with 2,442 screens in first- and second-tier cities across China.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. merged its music business QQ Music with digital music copyright redistributor China Music Corp. to form the Tencent Music and Entertainment Group, Caijing reports. China Music Corp.'s joint CEOs, Xie Zhenyu and Xie Guomin, were appointed as joint presidents of the new group, while Tencent vice president Peng Jiaxin will be CEO.

* Apple Inc. submitted two lawsuits against Qualcomm Inc. in Beijing's Intellectual Property Court, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the Chinese court. In the first lawsuit, Apple seeks 1 billion Chinese yuan in damages, alleging that the U.S.-based chipmaker abused its influence in the chip industry. The second lawsuit accuses Qualcomm of not following through on pledges to license "standard essential patents" at a low cost.

* China Mobile Group Shanghai Co. completed an Internet of Things trial with Ericsson AB on its live network, Telecompaper reports. The trial included using Ericsson's technologies to locate IoT-enabled bicycles from the bike-sharing service Mobike.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics said the government will provide 20 trillion Indonesian rupiah to build high-speed internet in regions and cities with no internet access, Majalah ICT reports. The government’s target is to have all regions of Indonesia connected to subsea cable networks by the end of 2019.

* Thai telco TrueMove H, a subsidiary of True Corp., and Ericsson successfully tested Thailand's first 5G signal system, Prachachat reports. TrueMove H was able to send 5G signals that traveled 20 times faster than signals sent via its 4.5G service, using Massive MIMO time division duplex (TDD) technology.

* Malaysian telco U Mobile partnered with Japanese mobile operator Docomo Digital to allow its customers to make Google Play Store purchases using direct carrier billing, Telecompaper reports. Docomo Digital will also provide customer care tools.

* Thai internet service provider TrueOnline is aiming to expand its broadband customer base by 15% in 2017, Krungthep Turakij reports. The True Corp. subsidiary also reportedly plans to invest an undisclosed amount to expand its broadband network to cover at least 10 million households by the end of the year.

* Indonesian telco PT XL Axiata Tbk received Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard certification for data center services by PT TUV Reinland Indonesia, Tribun News reports. With the certification, XL can provide data center services for card-issuing banks.

* Philippine telco Globe Telecom appointed Anton Reynaldo Bonifacio as its new chief information security officer and data protection officer, The Philippine Star reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Fairfax Media Ltd. denied reports that its weekday metropolitan newspapers will stop publishing this year, AdNews reports. Though there has been talk of pulling the plug on those newspapers, the publisher said that is not expected to happen for several years.

* New Zealand-based mobile trader Best Buy Ltd. pleaded guilty to 16 charges related to its door-to-door business in Auckland and around the North Island, Scoop reports. Best Buy, which was accused of failing to disclose required information and misleading customers, will be sentenced later this year.

* NBN Co. Ltd., the company building Australia's broadband network, said it is on track to roll out service to almost 50% of the country by June. The company said 3.8 million Australian homes and businesses can currently access the network.

* U.K.-based mobile brand advertising company Kargo expanded into Australia and appointed former BBC Worldwide Ltd. executive Robert Leach as general manager, Mumbrella reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Snapdeal, an Indian e-commerce company run by Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd., started talks with its existing investor, SoftBank Group, about raising fresh funds at a valuation range of US$3 billion to US$4 billion, Mint reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

* State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. has made requests to India's telecom department seeking a revenue-sharing deal to get a 5 MHz block in the country's 700 MHz spectrum in order to launch 4G services, The Economic Times (India) reports. The telco is looking to offer high-speed services in order to compete with Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

* Pakistan may be about to lift a ban on Bollywood films after four months, the Press Trust of India reports, citing sources in Pakistan's information ministry. A committee under the ministry reportedly urged the government to end the politically fueled ban.

FEATURED NEWS

Amid Galaxy Note 7 fallout, Samsung stresses safety: As Samsung detailed the design and manufacturing issues behind its Galaxy Note 7 recall, observers said despite safety concerns, lithium batteries will likely remain the dominant choice for mobile phones.

M&A Replay: Asia-Pacific deals through Jan. 22: LeEco, Alibaba, Sony: S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a biweekly wrap-up of Asia-Pacific media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates from Jan. 9 to Jan. 22.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Multichannel Trends: Cable shares open 2017 with a bang: Cable shares jumped right out of the gate in January, with the top three public MSOs up by mid-single digit since New Year's Eve, keeping trading multiples on track toward the 9x mark.

RECENT EARNINGS

Meredith sees earnings boost on political ad strength: On the strength of several closely watched down-ballot races, Meredith's political advertising revenue grew 37%, while total revenues for the fiscal second quarter increased 9%, to $442.6 million.

Verizon swings and misses; eyes turn to telecom titans next up to bat: A busy week for earnings in the communications industry began with Verizon reporting its fourth-quarter and full-year results from 2016. And things did not begin on a strong note.

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.