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SoftBank plans US$880B tech investment; Meituan-Dianping lands US$4B funding

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of recent investment deals and updates in the Asia-Pacific technology, media and communications sector.

TOP NEWS

* SoftBank Group Corp. is eyeing global technology investments worth as much as US$880 billion with the creation of three more investment vehicles, which will be set up two to three years apart, CEO Masayoshi Son told The Nikkei on Oct. 19. Son said the SoftBank Vision Fund is the first in a series of investments in tech startups, adding that SoftBank plans to invest in 1,000 companies over the next decade.

* Chinese on-demand internet services platform Meituan-Dianping on Oct. 19 said that it secured US$4 billion in a Tencent Holdings Ltd.-led funding round, which values the company at US$30 billion. Other key investors include Priceline Group Inc., which placed a US$450 million investment bet, Sequoia Capital, GIC, Canada's Pension Plan and China-UAE Investment Cooperation Fund.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. on Oct. 11 said it will invest more than US$15 billion over three years to build global research hubs, as the Chinese e-commerce giant looks to further its growth with new technologies.

* Indian ride-hailing startup Ola on Oct. 11 said that it raised US$1.1 billion in the latest funding round led by investors such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and SoftBank Group Corp. China's Tencent will invest US$400 million in Ola.

STARTUP FUNDING

* Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd., also known as Foxconn Technology Group, and China-focused investment firm IDG Capital are planning to establish a 10-billion-yuan fund for startups in automotive technologies such as self-driving artificial intelligence and battery development, Bloomberg News reported, citing a presentation for potential investors.

* Naver Corp. invested 7.5 billion South Korean won in social creator platform OGQ Corp., which operates a wallpaper app and runs a market for patented images, video and fonts, Money Today reported.

* Flipkart India Pte. Ltd. is looking to invest in more startups as well as planning more buyouts as it aims to widen its lead over Amazon India Ltd. and diversify its business, three people familiar with the matter told Mint on Oct. 23. The company, with over US$4 billion in its pocket, has reportedly begun talks with food delivery app Swiggy, services company UrbanClap and furniture retailer UrbanLadder, along with other startups in wealth management and insurance.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. made a significant investment in Chinese AI technology developer DeePhi Technology Co. Ltd. in August, The Korea Herald reported Oct. 22.

* Naver Corp. said Oct. 21 that it has invested a further €100 million in French technology fund K-Fund I formed by Korelya Capital. Naver and Korelya Capital plan to expand their investment beyond France to reach startups in the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands and other countries in northern Europe.

* GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. on Oct. 20 said that it secured US$700 million in debt facilities from global and regional banks, and entered into an exclusive partnership with Singaporean public transport operator SMRT Corp. as it pushes to create Southeast Asia's biggest car rental fleet by the fourth quarter of 2018.

* Chinese AI startup Horizon Robotics, which was set up by a former head of Baidu Inc.'s Institute of Deep Learning, expects to raise US$100 million in a series A+ funding round led by Intel Capital, the corporate venture arm of Intel Corp., according to an Oct. 19 statement.

* U.S. investment fund Bain Capital LLC will consider investing in Toshiba temporarily if the ongoing acquisition procedures are not completed by late March 2018, to prevent Toshiba from being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, The Mainichi Shimbun reported Oct. 19.

* Free over-the-top TV service Pluto TV secured US$8.3 million from investors during a funding round led by the venture capital arm of Samsung Group. Pluto TV received US$5 million from Samsung Venture Investment Corp. in the funding round, according to an Oct. 17 news release.

* As expected, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings Ltd. led a US$502 million funding round for Florida-based augmented reality startup Magic Leap Inc., according to an Oct. 17 statement. Other new investors include Singapore-based global fund EDBI, with existing investors such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc. also participating in the round.

* Xiaomi Inc. CEO Lei Jun said the company will invest 23 billion Chinese yuan in the construction of a new regional headquarters in Wuhan, capital of China's central Hubei province, Yicai Global reported Oct. 16.

CAPITAL INVESTMENTS

* SoftBank Group and Lendlease Corp. Ltd. are partnering to develop and own telecom infrastructure assets in the U.S., with the joint venture targeting US$5 billion of assets over the medium term.

* Tata Teleservices' board on Oct. 18 approved a proposal to raise as much as 200 billion Indian rupees through the issuance of preference shares, non-convertible debentures or inter-corporate loans. The regulatory filing did not state the purpose of the fundraising, but the move comes close to the recent announcement that Bharti Airtel Ltd. is acquiring Tata Teleservices.

* Indonesian telco PT Mitra Komunikasi Nusantara Tbk plans to raise 1.2 trillion rupiah for its subsidiaries, IndoTelko reported Oct. 17.

* Apple Inc. supplier Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd. will acquire a Sony Corp. plant located in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan with the aim of meeting growing demand for iPhone and other smartphone components, The Nikkei reported Oct. 15. Murata, plans to invest ¥30 billion to ¥40 billion, including spending on new equipment to produce smartphone circuit boards.

* SoftBank-backed Flipkart will infuse US$500 million into PhonePe to expand the operations of its payments arm, Mint reported Oct. 13.

* Toshiba Memory Corp. President Yasuo Naruke said at a news conference that Toshiba Corp.'s flash memory unit plans to invest more than ¥300 billion a year to ramp up production, Jiji Press reported Oct. 13.

* Toshiba Corp. on Oct. 11 announced a ¥110 billion investment by its flash memory unit, Toshiba Memory Corp., or TMC, for the installation of manufacturing equipment at its Yokkaichi plant in western Japan. Toshiba agreed in September to sell TMC to a conglomerate led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital LP.

* True Internet, a subsidiary of Thailand's True Corp., will invest 400 million baht in increasing its network capacity to meet growing data demand, Prachachat reported Oct. 11.

* Singtel and Ericsson AB will invest a total of S$2 million over the next three years to establish a center of excellence for 5G development and deployment in Singapore, The Business Times reported Oct. 11.

* Eros International Media Ltd. is allocating up to US$225 million to develop content in the 2018 fiscal year, wherein 70% will be spent on its film business, while the remaining 30% will be used to improve its over-the-top service Eros Now, Television Post reported Oct. 9.

OTHER FUNDING

* China Telecommunications Corp. has reportedly been considering its investment options for Brazilian operator Oi SA, including an acquisition, as part of the state-owned telco's overseas expansion, China Daily reported Oct. 19.

* Perfect World Co. Ltd., a Chinese games and film group, has raised another US$250 million credit line from East West Bank and JP Morgan, which is the second installment in the company's five-year commitment to supporting about 50 Universal Pictures titles, struck in January 2016, Variety reported Oct. 19.