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Tencent's EU investment; SoftBank's WeWork financing woes; China tariff cuts


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Tencent's EU investment; SoftBank's WeWork financing woes; China tariff cuts


* Tencent Holdings Ltd. is planning a US$10 billion investment in Europe in 2020, with one-third of that money in Germany, Telecompaper reports, citing Handelsblatt's interview with Shiwei Li, president of Tencent's cloud business. According to Li, Germany is "the most important market outside of China" for Tencent. The company has 20 employees at its European headquarters in Frankfurt, with the number expected to increase significantly in the next few years.

* SoftBank Group Corp.'s negotiations to obtain US$3 billion from Japanese lenders as part of its rescue package for embattled coworking startup WeWork Cos. Inc. have stalled, Reuters reports, citing two unnamed sources. Mizuho Financial Group Inc., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. have reportedly hit their internal lending limits to the Japanese conglomerate and are also concerned about risks involved in rescuing The We Co. unit.

* China will lower import tariff rates for high-tech products and other goods beginning Jan. 1, 2020, while it aims to complete a "phase one" trade deal with the U.S. A total of 859 product categories will be temporarily subject to lower tariffs next year, including OLED screens and certain semiconductors.


* Toshiba Corp. agreed to extend the tender offer period to fully buy its 52.4%-owned subsidiary NuFlare Technology Inc., at NuFlare's request. The extension of the deadline to Jan. 16, 2020, from Dec. 25 comes after HOYA Corp. announced its intention to acquire the semiconductor manufacturing equipment provider for ¥147.72 billion if Toshiba fails to complete its tender offer.

* Sony Corp. said its semiconductor arm Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp. is setting up a new office in Osaka on April 1, 2020. The new office will be used as a design and development hub for complementary metal oxide semiconductor image sensors for internet of things.


* Naver Webtoon Corp., an online comic platform owned by NAVER Corp., started offering its content in Spanish and French, Korea JoongAng Daily reports. The company is now targeting European markets after hitting 10 million monthly average users in the U.S.

* Kakao Corp. will discontinue the real-time trending keywords search function of its web portal Daum in February 2020 following concerns of results manipulation, ZDNet Korea reports. The company is also halting its related search recommendations and predictive search functions for people's names.


* Tencent Holdings completed 108 investments this year, a 33% decline from its 162 deals in 2018, Ifeng reports. The company invested 34.3 billion yuan in 2019, compared to 72.7 billion yuan it spent in 2018.

* Baidu Inc.-owned video streaming platform iQIYI Inc. was ordered to pay 100,000 yuan in fines for distribution of advertisements without government approval, The Paper reports. The platform's advertising business has been fined five times this year.

* Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd., owner of video app TikTok, acquired local deep learning game developer, Tencent News reports. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


* Bharti Infratel Ltd.'s board will hold a meeting today to discuss the next steps to be taken regarding its proposed merger with Indus Towers Ltd., sources told The Economic Times. The Bharti Airtel Ltd. unit earlier extended the transaction's completion date to Dec. 24 after failing to close the transaction in October due to pending government approvals.


* Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. purchased a 2,383-bed portfolio of student accommodation properties in the U.K. under a £448 million agreement. The transaction, which will be carried out through Singapore Press' Straits Ten Pte. Ltd. subsidiary, will increase the company's assets under management to S$1.5 billion.

* Southeast Asian ride-hailing app GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd. confirmed that it will submit an application for a digital banking license in Singapore, Nikkei Asian Review reports.

* Indonesian wireless carrier PT Telekomunikasi Selular launched a cloud-based integrated communication service called CloudX, Tempo reports. The service aims to provide an integrated communication network for the internal staff of enterprises.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Sports Authority of Thailand are preparing to subsidize the purchase of local TV rights to Tokyo 2020 to ensure that Thai viewers can watch the upcoming Summer Olympics for free, TV Digital Watch reports. The regulator is working on partnerships with four digital TV operators and advertising company Dentsu Inc.

* Thai telco Advanced Info Service PCL partnered with Bangkok-based Lungri Farm to open a new agricultural technology center, which will act as a testbed for the IoT-powered farming platform of AIS.


* Vocus Group Ltd. investors will receive A$35 million in the settlement of a class action proceeding over alleged breaches of continuous disclosure obligations. The class action, launched in April, accused the Australian telco of "misleading or deceptive conduct" regarding its fiscal year 2017 earnings forecast. The settlement of the class action, which is without admission of any liability, is subject to the approval of Australia's federal court.

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Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Patrick Tibke contributed to this report.

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