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Tencent to acquire 5% of Ubisoft; US to hit China with $30B in annual tariffs

TOP NEWS

* Tencent Holdings Ltd. will acquire 5,591,469 shares, or a 5% stake, in French game developer Ubisoft Entertainment SA. As part of the transaction, Ubisoft and Tencent have also signed a strategic agreement pursuant to which Tencent will operate, publish and promote several of Ubisoft's titles in the Chinese market.

* The White House is preparing to make it "significantly more difficult" for Chinese companies to acquire advanced U.S. technology or invest in American companies, individuals involved in the planning told The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. government reportedly plans to release a package of proposed punitive measures aimed at China that includes tariffs on imports worth at least US$30 billion.

JAPAN

* SoftBank Group Corp.'s mobile arm SoftBank Corp. entered into a capital alliance with Line Mobile to develop the LINE Corp. unit's low-cost mobile virtual network operator business. Under the alliance, SoftBank will underwrite a third-party issuance of new shares to boost Line Mobile's capital.

* Yahoo Japan Corp. is teaming up with Indonesia's Sinar Mas Group and Tokyo-based East Ventures to form an up-to-¥20-billion fund to invest in Southeast Asian early stage startups, the Nikkei Asian Review reports.

* WeWork Cos., a shared workspace company backed by SoftBank Group, will open its sixth Tokyo facility in July and plans to have up to 12 Tokyo locations by the end of the year, The Nikkei reports.

SOUTH KOREA

* The Korea Communications Commission fined Facebook Inc. 396 million South Korean won for slowing down user internet connections in 2016 and 2017, Financial News reports. The South Korean watchdog also ordered the social media giant to correct the unfair practice and submit a plan to prevent recurrence.

* Naver Labs, the research and development unit of Naver Corp., is partnering with geolocation intelligence provider Foursquare Labs Inc. to develop a global point-of-interest search engine, ET News reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Tencent Holdings' reported total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017 jumped 51% year over year to 66.39 billion Chinese yuan from 43.86 billion yuan in the year-earlier quarter. The company said it will be stepping up its investments in a number of key areas that include cloud services, payment, artificial intelligence and smart retail. Meanwhile, combined monthly active users of the company's social media platforms, Weixin and WeChat, were up 11.2% year over year.

* German digital lender N26 GmbH said it raised US$160 million in a series C funding round led by Tencent Holdings and Allianz Group's technology investment unit, Allianz X.

* Tencent Holdings has struck a partnership with the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing to codevelop and offer blockchain-based logistics platforms and cloud services.

* Shen Haixiong, the newly appointed director of China Central Television, met with Baidu Inc. CEO Robin Li to further cooperate in areas including voice recognition and audience data analysis, The Paper reports. Shen was also recently in talks with Tencent's Pony Ma on internet TV development and WeChat accounts management, as well as with Alibaba's Jack Ma for a strategic partnership on content distribution.

* China's Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Chen Zhaoxiong said the country will lay out plans for cross-industry integration to enhance 5G development, China News reports. The government plans to integrate 5G technologies into public services, including transportation, medical services and environmental planning, and will also adopt new regulations to enhance the deployment of the network.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Reliance Communications Ltd. said it received approval from investors holding US$300 million worth of bonds to sell certain assets to Reliance Jio, as well as for the monetization of several real estate assets. The bondholders also approved the release of their security on the company's assets and the acceptance of partial prepayment of their outstanding bonds. The asset monetization plan is part of RCom's debt resolution strategy announced in October 2017.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd.'s takeover of Tata Teleservices Ltd. may be delayed after American Tower Corp. rejected the Tata Group unit's request to waive almost 20 billion rupees in early tenancy termination penalties, two sources told The Economic Times.

* Network18 Media & Investments Ltd. appointed Jyoti Deshpande, group CEO and managing director of Eros International, as nonexecutive director. Meanwhile, K.R. Raja resigned from the directorship of the company, effective March 21.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Hong Kong's Television Broadcasts Ltd. plans to launch an over-the-top video platform in Thailand in partnership with MVTV, Variety reports. The companies plan to create a Thai version of the digital video platform TVB Anywhere, which will offer TVB content dubbed in Thai, as well as delivering 100 local channels when it launches in the second quarter. The platform also plans to further expand in Southeast Asian territories such as Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

* Asian satellite operator Thaicom Public Co. Ltd. signed a multiyear deal with CANAL+ Group's CANAL+ Overseas Myanmar for the delivery of its newly launched direct-to-home TV service in Myanmar. The Vivendi SA unit leased four transponders on the Thaicom 6 satellite and broadcast platform on Ku-band to deliver a bouquet initially comprising 80 channels.

* The Malaysian government launched Okey TV, a state-run TV channel for Sabah and Sarawak, which aims to fight fake news and promote creative industry in the region, The Malay Mail reports.

* Indonesian telecom infrastructure provider PT Sarana Menara Nusantara Tbk announced plans for a full-year 2017 dividend payment of 1.2 trillion rupiah. The proposed total dividend will be subject to approval at the annual general meeting of shareholders to be held no later than May 2018.

* Thai mobile operator Total Access Communication Public Co. Ltd., or DTAC, canceled its plan to establish a joint venture with state-owned CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd. due to legalities of the entity, Naewna reports. Instead, DTAC will reportedly strike a cell tower and equipment rental deal with CAT.

* Astra Group and Hutchinson Group are rumored to be considering purchasing PT Centratama Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, an Indonesian telecom infrastructure provider, Kontan reports.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission plans to roll out a law that requires all SIM cards to be registered with an ID card and biometric information, the Bangkok Post reports. Mobile operators have raised concerns that the endeavor would be costly and may result in legal action against them for failing to meet the proposed deadline of 180 days.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Will Easton, managing director of Facebook in Australia and New Zealand, failed to respond to inquiries on whether Australians were among the 50 million users whose data was reportedly collected by Cambridge Analytica, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

* U.S.-based cloud services provider Neverfail announced that its new data center in Sydney, Australia, went live in February and is serving 38 of the company's enterprise and independent software vendor clients.

FEATURED NEWS

EU unveils plans for 3% turnover tax for tech giants: The European Commission unveiled plans to introduce a new tax rate in the European Union for tech companies, set at 3% of their global revenues.

Analysis: An FTC probe of Facebook could make waves in broader tech sector: An FTC decision to investigate Facebook's privacy protections may not have a large immediate impact on the company's financials. Yet any regulatory action could have broader implications for the tech sector.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Wireless Investor: Philippines audits spectrum, pools towers for third telco: The Philippine government has been easing barriers to entry and leveling the playing field for a potential third mobile operator in 2018 by recalling and reallocating spectrum, forming a common tower policy and legalizing mobile number portability.

Economics of Internet: Profile: Viu (Singapore): Viu provides consumers in Singapore with relevant Asian content and reasonable pricing.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, 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.

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