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Trump pushes to help sanctioned ZTE; Samsung in hot water over structure

In this biweekly Asia-Pacific Regulatory Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory events in the region.

TOP NEWS

* U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted May 13 that he is working with China's President Xi Jinping to "give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE Corp., a way to get back into business, fast." The company said process and human-resource problems caused its violation of a settlement resolving sanctions-related charges, The Wall Street Journal reported May 12. ZTE said May 9 that it ceased its major operating activities as a result of U.S. export restrictions.

* Samsung Group faced new regulatory pressure as South Korea's antitrust chief called the company's ownership structure unsustainable, Reuters reported May 9. Kim Sang-jo, the Korea Fair Trade Commission chair, took aim at the circular shareholdings between Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Samsung C&T Corp. and Samsung Life Insurance Co. Ltd., urging Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee to make a decision regarding the ownership structure, which critics believe has allowed his family to keep control of the businesses with little investment.

* Chinese policymakers plan to tighten oversight of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group and some of its peers amid concerns the companies could pose systemic risks to the country's economy, Bloomberg News reported May 7.

JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

* Japanese consumer electronics company Panasonic Corp. said April 30 that it and one of its U.S. units, Panasonic Avionics Corp., a supplier of in-flight entertainment and communication systems, will pay about $280.6 million in penalties to the U.S. government to resolve investigations under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other securities laws.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Coolpad Group Ltd. said May 10 that its subsidiary Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., sued three Xiaomi subsidiaries for patent infringement, ahead of Xiaomi's planned IPO.

* Beijing-based Datang Telecom Technology Co. Ltd. said May 5 that it obtained approval from China's antitrust regulator to set up a smartphone chip joint venture with Qualcomm Inc.'s China unit.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Indian telecom giant Reliance Jio called for legal action against competitor Bharti Airtel Ltd., alleging a violation of conditions to offer services on the latest Apple Inc. smartwatch, The Economic Times of India reported May 14.

* Google India Pvt. Ltd. plans to move the high court against the Bengaluru Income Tax Appellate Tribunal's ruling that requires the Alphabet Inc.-owned Google Inc. unit to pay royalty tax for its Ad-Words program, The Economic Times reported May 12.

* Facebook Inc. responded to the Indian government's second notice concerning the Cambridge Analytica LLC data scandal, restating its commitment to safeguarding people's information, as well as "protecting the integrity of the electoral process in India," The Economic Times reported May 11.

* India's Supreme Court dismissed the country's Department of Telecommunications' plea against the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal's order that the department approve Bharti Airtel's acquisition of Telenor ASA's Telenor India, without requiring the Indian telco to furnish the bank guarantee, The Economic Times reported May 9.

* India's Delhi High Court dismissed the Centre's appeal challenging Vodafone Group PLC's move to initiate two international arbitrations against India concerning a tax demand of 110 billion Indian rupees under a retrospective law of 2012, the Press Trust of India reported May 7.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission Secretary General Takorn Tantasith has been given the power to immediately suspend advertisements that the Thai regulator deems illegal or misleading, Thairath reported May 10.

* The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission named Onggo Wijaya, director of operations for telco tower company PT Protelindo, and Ockyanto, the Permit and Regulatory Division head of telco infrastructure company PT Tower Bersama, as suspects in a corruption case, CNN Indonesia reported May 8.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australian mobile advertising startup Unlockd Media Pty Ltd. was granted an interim injunction by the English High Court, preventing Google from removing the company's app from Google's app store and disabling AdMob-generated advertising content, The Australian reported May 10.

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