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SoftBank to cut WeWork investment; Grab books over US$3B in capital commitments

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SoftBank to cut WeWork investment; Grab books over US$3B in capital commitments


* SoftBank Group Corp. is in talks to invest US$2 billion in WeWork Cos. Inc., down from the previously reported US$16 billion planned commitment and will not take a majority stake in the coworking startup, London's Financial Times reported, citing unnamed sources. The potential investment in WeWork could be announced as soon as this week and will not include the participation of the SoftBank Vision Fund, which is already a key investor in WeWork.

* GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. received additional funding from Tokyo Century Corp., taking total investments by the Japanese financial services company in the Southeast Asian ride-hailing giant to US$175 million. Tokyo Century also entered into an agreement to invest an undisclosed sum in Grab Rentals, pushing the total capital commitments received in Grab's ongoing series H round to above US$3 billion, according to DealStreetAsia.

* LG Electronics Inc. in 2019 will release its first 5G-enabled smartphone in partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., representatives from both companies said. Mobile device manufacturers launching their first 5G phone in 2020 will be "too late."


* Tokyo-based system integrator ITFOR Inc. partnered with Netstars Co. Ltd., operator of Japanese mobile payment service StarPay, to allow ITFOR's payment terminal iRITSpay to accept major QR code-based payments, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

* Tokyo-based drone developer A.L.I. Technologies partnered with U.S.-based semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices Inc. to co-develop 3D video production services.


* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. filed a patent for a dual-screen phone, whose two display screens can operate both attached and detached, ZDNet Korea reports. The two displays, which can be put together in different formations using magnets, can work as one big screen when attached or can operate separately.

* NAVER Corp. is set to debut at CES 2019, showcasing 13 artificial intelligence-based services and prototypes, E Daily reports. The 13 solutions include xDM Platform, a location solution for smartphones and autonomous vehicles; M1, a high-precision indoor mapping solution; AROUND G, an autonomous guide robot that works without a laser scanner.

* In other NAVER news, the internet company will create a new smartphone category on its online shopping platform Smartstore to allow independent smartphone sellers to register and sell their products, Newsis reports. The move will allow consumers to buy a smartphone without going through a mobile carrier.


* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Lenovo Group Ltd. testified against Qualcomm on the opening day of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's trial against the chipmaker, Bloomberg News reports. Qualcomm has been accused of threatening to withhold chip supply unless the companies continued to pay technology licensing fees.

* Lenovo China will undergo restructuring, Sina reports. The company will set up three business departments. These are the corporate client department, SME client department and the consumer department.

* Chinese regulators issued a disciplinary warning to an internet user from Guangdong and ordered him to pay a fine of 1,000 yuan for setting up an unauthorized virtual private network to connect to international websites, South China Morning Post reports.

* Huawei Technologies introduced Kunpeng 920, a new chipset designed by subsidiary HiSilicon for use in servers, Reuters reports.

* ASK Animation Studio, a Beijing-based startup with manga and animation as its core businesses, raised 10 million yuan in its series A+ funding round, China Venture reports. ASK's investors include Baidu Inc.'s video streaming platform iQIYI Inc.


* The Indian government refused to provide immunity to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. from dues and liabilities arising from its spectrum and mobile tower deal with Reliance Communications Ltd., The Times of India reports.

* Reliance Jio and Mobile Streams PLC entered into a partnership that will see the U.K-based mobile content retailer providing HTML5 games content for Jio's 4G feature phone, JioPhone, and the recently launched smartphone games store JioGames.

* BSNL partnered with Eros International PLC's over-the-top video platform Eros Now to offer unlimited content from Eros Now to select customers of BSNL's prepaid plans, Press Trust of India reports.


* Telenor ASA companies Total Access Communication PCL in Thailand, and Digi.Com Bhd. in Malaysia have launched the mobile data plan functionality on the Android operating system. Developed in conjunction with Google LLC, the new feature allows Telenor's mobile phone subscribers to manage their data usage on the Android platform without having to install an app.

* Grand Prix International PCL inked a deal with digital marketing solution provider YDM (Thailand) Co. Ltd. to develop a digital media platform that will adopt the use of big data analytics, Manager Online reports.

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission may opt for a merit-based auction system for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction, Voice TV reports. Instead of awarding licenses to the highest bidder, the new criteria may assess lowest price point for the public, earliest 5G adoption and fastest network expansion.


* Sky and Space Global Ltd. inked two new memoranda of understanding as part of its growth strategy in the African region. The company entered into an agreement with Extensia Bridge that will see the latter become a key reseller of SAS solutions across Africa. SAS will also collaborate with AfricaOnline Ghana to explore and test how SAS' proprietary connectivity network can be incorporated into the licensed corporate ISP's service offering.

* Alex Parsons, former chief digital and marketing officer of Nine Entertainment Co., has been appointed to lead Fairfax Media Ltd.'s events business ahead of an expected sale soon, The Australian Financial Review reports. Nine acquired the events business as part of its merger with Fairfax.


The US Week Ahead: CES to highlight role of regulators in tech: Senior government officials, along with representatives from companies such as Google, AT&T and Verizon, are all slated to discuss the role of policymakers and regulators on topics ranging from drones to the future of mobility and connectivity.

Q&A: Cable data expert sees benefits, misconceptions around usage-based billing: OpenVault CEO and founder Mark Trudeau discusses how broadband usage data is one of the most powerful tools cable operators can use to better manage their networks and increase their revenues.


Multichannel Trends: Telco stocks took 2018 in stride until December's wild ride: Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier and DISH wrestled with a shrinking a multichannel industry to various degrees in 2018, but all followed the broader markets downward in the year's final act.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Frances Wang, Kevin Osmond 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.