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Huawei target of US trade secrets theft probe; India's Byju's buys Osmo


* Federal prosecutors are investigating Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. for allegedly stealing trade secrets from U.S. business partners such as T-Mobile US Inc., people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. The investigation is reportedly at an advanced stage and an indictment could come soon.

* Indian online tutoring startup Byju's acquired U.S.-based playful learning system Osmo for US$120 million. Byju's said the acquisition will allow it to tap into Osmo's physical-to-digital technology and content.

* The China-U.S. trade war has had a bruising impact on American companies and it could get worse if President Donald Trump follows through with even higher tariffs in the event that the two countries cannot resolve their differences by March 1.


* SoftBank Group Corp.'s early-stage investment arm SoftBank Ventures Asia Inc. named Seung Lee CFO. In his new role, Lee will be responsible for managing global funds and overseeing the financial initiatives of the company's global offices including those in Beijing, Singapore and the Silicon Valley. Prior to this role, Lee created his own startup and advised corporations on mergers, acquisitions and raising capital.

* Microsoft Corp. announced that its Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 are now available across six markets in Asia, including Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan.


* NTT Docomo Inc. and Dentsu Inc. have agreed to invest ¥5 billion to form a new digital out-of-home advertising company called LIVE BOARD Inc. The new company, which will be launched in February, will be 51% owned by Docomo and 49% by Dentsu. LIVE BOARD will build and operate an online platform which allows multiple advertisers to buy space across digital out-of-home media.

* Brave Studio, a wholly owned subsidiary of local smartphone software developer Bravesoft Inc., set up an office in the Japanese city of Matsue, Shimane prefecture, The Nikkei reports. The new office will engage in business-to-business system development using the programming language Ruby.


* The South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT will expand the supply of frequencies for public use up to 336.4 MHz bandwidth this year for public safety, marine and aviation, Money Today reports. The ministry plans to supply the frequencies in a phased manner to relevant organizations.

* The South Korean government laid out a five-year plan for boosting data and artificial intelligence-based economic activities, with an aim to nurture 10 unicorn startups and build the data market to reach 30 trillion won in size, ZDNet Korea reports. The government plans to focus on establishing an ecosystem for such development by making investments and creating policy supports.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is set to locally launch Galaxy A9 Pro, a domestic version of its Galaxy A8s released in China at the end of 2018, ETNews reports. The product, priced at about 500,000 won, comes in an infinity O display, in which the front side of the phone is fully filled with a screen except for a small hole that houses a front camera.


* A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers introduced bills that would prohibit the sale of U.S. chips or other components to Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp. and other Chinese telecommunications companies that violate U.S. sanctions or export control laws, Reuters reports.

* Huawei Technologies has forecast slowing growth in its international markets this year as national security concerns over espionage plague the Chinese technology giant. The company's billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei said growth would not exceed 20% in 2019 due to "challenges and difficulties in the international market."

* The mobile gaming industry in China posted revenue of 133.96 billion yuan in 2018, with growth slowing down to 15.4% from 41.7% in the previous year, 36Kr reports. The market was affected by the lack of variety in games, a rise in game prices and the government's suspension of new games approval.

* Baidu Inc.'s online streaming platform iQIYI Inc. reached a partnership with the Shanghai metro to showcase its content in 17 subway lines, covering 37,000 screens in 415 stations, National Business Daily reports.

* Microsoft signed an agreement to build its new artificial intelligence and internet of things lab in Shanghai, Xinhua News reports. The first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region, the facility will work to enhance the integration of AI and IoT and foster the digital transformation in industries such as manufacturing, retail and healthcare.

* Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s Tencent Games partnered with Linekong Entertainment Technology Co. Ltd. to launch "Nao Nao Tian Gong," its first game of the year, The Securities Times reports.

* China Literature Ltd. reached a partnership with Xiaoice, the AI system developed by Microsoft, to share intellectual property rights and interchangeability of the online characters they created, Tencent News reports.


* Netflix Inc. and its Indian rival Star India Pvt. Ltd.'s Hotstar plan to self-regulate content streamed on their platforms in India in a bid to prevent potential government censorship, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. A draft of an unofficial code that will be adopted by Netflix, Hotstar and other local players stipulates that streaming platforms will not air content that encourages terrorism, is disrespectful of India's national flag, or shows a child "engaged in real or simulated sexual activities."

* Bharti Infratel Ltd. and Indus Towers Ltd. are demanding 45 billion Indian rupees from Vodafone Idea Ltd. for vacating tower slots ahead of their contracted tenure, The Economic Times (India) reports. Vodafone Idea reportedly exited these tenancies as the merged entity does not require as many tower slots needed by the two companies independently.

* Microsoft will set up artificial intelligence labs in 10 Indian universities and train 500,000 youth across the country. The company also plans to skill over 10,000 developers in India over the next three years.


* Singapore-based ride-hailing giant GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. will form a joint venture with Chinese online insurer ZhongAn Online P & C Insurance Co. Ltd. to enter the digital insurance distribution business in Southeast Asia. The partnership would provide a digital insurance marketplace offering various insurance products to Grab users.

* Malaysian telco infrastructure company Silver Ridge Holdings Bhd. won two contracts from Telekom Malaysia with a combined value of 5.7 million ringgit, The Edge Markets reports. The contracts awarded are for maintenance and support works for Huawei.

* Singapore's Info-communications Media Development Authority is considering blocking automated scam calls and text messages which promote illegal activities such as money lending and online gambling, Channel News Asia reports.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has begun informing 1.2 million eligible users of their right to free internet access, Khaosod reports. This service, designed for underserved people in rural Thailand, will begin May 1.


* New Zealand-based Two Degrees Mobile Ltd. appointed Mark Aue as its new CEO. Aue, who currently serves as the company's CFO, replaces Stewart Sherriff, who announced his retirement in August 2018.


Intel chips shortage, trade tensions hit PC shipments, but rebound expected: Worldwide PC shipments slipped in 2018 but could grow slightly in 2019 as Intel's chip supply normalizes, according to research reports and analysts.


Global Multichannel: Asia-Pacific consumers embrace ultra-fast broadband as fiber rollout takes off: The ongoing shift towards fiber-to-the-premises-based fixed broadband technology by major ISPs across the Asia-Pacific region has remarkably improved broadband speed in both advanced and emerging markets.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Wil Hathaway 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.