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Foxconn may triple US investment; Samsung heir denies bribery charges

TOP NEWS

* U.S. President Donald Trump said Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. Chairman Terry Gou told him off-the-record that he is considering tripling his U.S. investment to US$30 billion, Bloomberg News reports. Hon Hai is also known as Foxconn Technology Group.

* Samsung Group heir Lee Jae Yong took the stand in his corruption trial and denied all wrongdoing, arguing that the payments made were not in exchange for political favors, according to The Wall Street Journal.

* Smart-city technologies are rapidly gaining momentum around the world, industry experts said at the Asia IoT Business Platform event in Manila, Philippines. European governments and businesses in particular are increasingly looking at the implementation of Internet of Things technologies in their drive to set up smart cities.

* Alphabet Inc.'s Google Inc. and Apple Inc. have removed 330 apps from their online stores after receiving a request from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

* WME-IMG is set to receive a US$1.1 billion investment, led by Singapore's sovereign wealth fund and a Canadian pension fund, Variety reports. The deal is expected to close mid-August.

PAN-ASIAN NEWS

* CJ E&M's creator unit DIA TV will tailor its content to target different regions in the global market, Yonhap News Agency reports. Under the new plan, the CJ Corp. unit will target India with kids-related content, Southeast Asia with beauty content, and the U.S. and Europe with Korean dance and food content.

* Taiwan-based M17 Entertainment, a live-streaming service available in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, raised US$40 million in a Series A funding round, TechCrunch reports. M17, which currently includes streamers from Taiwan, seeks to open up its service to streamers in Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and China.

JAPAN

* Japanese telco KDDI Corp. will acquire Internet of Things services startup SORACOM Inc for ¥20 billion, The Nikkei reports. The Japanese telecom giant is expected to buy all outstanding shares in the Tokyo-based startup by the end of August.

* KDDI Corp.'s revenues increased by 6% year over year to ¥1.1986 trillion for the three months ended 30 June, reflecting an increase in mobile communications revenues, as well as an expansion of the energy, commerce and settlement businesses. Quarterly profit fell 3.5% year over year to ¥193.843 billion from ¥200.782 billion.

* SoftBank Group Corp. is exploring the prospect of merging its U.S. mobile carrier Sprint Corp. with an American satellite TV company DISH Network Corp., The Nikkei reports. DISH's shares rose 2% on Aug. 1 upon the speculation, according to Hollywood Reporter.

SOUTH KOREA

* South Korean online games company NEXON Co. Ltd. and Finnish mobile game studio Grand Cru Oy teamed up to launch the role-playing game "Battlejack" on mobile devices. The game, with a mythical fantasy theme, is inspired by the card game blackjack.

* The South Korean government said it will expand the current tax incentives to support AI, Internet of Things and cloud startups. According to the newly revised tax law announced on Aug. 2, startups in the so-called New Growth Service Industries will receive 75% tax reductions for the first 3 years and 50% for the next 2 years.

* Naver Corp. opened the Naver TV Creator Studio to help its one-person broadcasters to better manage their channels in Naver TV, Yonhap News Agency reports. In addition, a broadcaster with over 1,000 subscribers can broadcast live through the Creative Studio without discussing it with Naver in advance.

* Google Play has opened its official Naver Blog and Naver Café to better communicate with South Korean gamers, the Korean Economic Daily reports. This is the first time Google Play has opened a real-time communication channel using Naver's platforms.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook has defended the removal of virtual private network, or VPN, apps from the App Store in China amid concerns over the recent regulatory crackdown and Apple's declining growth in the country.

* LeEco is in talks with China Construction Bank to pay back an overdue loan worth 50 million yuan and a 200-million-yuan loan due in September, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the embattled Chinese tech company reportedly has enough cash to repurchase bonds worth up to 1.93 billion yuan, sources told Caixin.

* China Unicom will set up two operating centers in Guangdong and Zhejiang in alliance with Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Caijing reports. The deepened cooperation reportedly signals that the two internet giants are almost certain to become the biggest shareholders of China Unicom in its mixed-ownership reform.

* Tencent has invested in U.K.-based Milky Tea, an independent game development and animation production studio.

* Wanda Film Holding Co. Ltd., the cinema operating arm of conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd., postponed the planned reorganization, saying it needed more time to complete all the procedures. Meanwhile, The Paper quoted an internal document from the parent company stating that the media business will be restructured into three streams, namely cultural tourism, TV and film, and sports-related dealings.

* Alibaba Pictures Group Ltd. named Fan Luyuan as CEO and chairman as predecessor Yu Yongfu stepped aside for another leadership role in parent company Alibaba. Fan has been with Alibaba for 10 years in the Alipay department.

* The three major Chinese telecom carriers China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. Ltd. and China Unicom will join hands to run a mini 5G network trial run at year-end, The Paper reports. The network will cover areas in the Pudong, Hongkou, and Jiading districts in Shanghai and will be tested on different aspects of functionality.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Facebook Inc. is expected to establish a subsidiary in Indonesia by Aug. 17, Kompas reports. The subsidiary will operate as Facebook's representative office to manage Indonesia operations.

* Malaysian telco Celcom Axiata Berhad partnered with live streaming sports platform Sportsfix to launch a mobile video service in Malaysia. Through the partnership Celcom will bundle access to Sportsfix's content together with its telco services.

* Microsoft Corp.'s Thailand unit insists that it will retain and retrain its workforce instead of cutting jobs, the Bangkok Post reports. Microsoft has been in a restructuring process to stimulate revenue from cloud services, a move that has threatened thousands of jobs.

* Malaysian telco Axiata Group Bhd. is reportedly planning to divest its stake in Indonesian telco PT XL Axiata Tbk, Kabar Bisnis reports. Axiata Group is said to have approached Djarum Group, an Indonesian cigarette manufacturer, to submit a bid offering.

* The Thai cabinet passed a new resolution approving changes to the 5 billion baht undersea-cable project to upgrade the country's digital infrastructure, Kom Chad Luek reports. TOT Public Co. Ltd. and CAT Telecom will handle the project through their new subsidiary instead of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, among other major detail changes.

* StarHub Ltd. reported a net profit of S$85.7 million for the second quarter of 2017, The Straits Times reports. Following the downward performance, the Singapore-based telco lowered its interim dividend per share from S$0.05 to S$0.04.

* Ride-hailing services GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd and Uber Technologies, Inc. could face criminal and civil charges in the Philippines for allegedly operating without a franchise and violating the constitutional limit on foreign ownership of public utilities, a lawmaker said at a congressional hearing on Aug. 2, ABS-CBN News reports. Meanwhile, the Philippines' Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board gave Uber Technologies five more days to explain why the company should retain its accreditation after allegedly defying the regulator's order to cease accrediting new drivers by July 26, Rappler reports.

* South Africa-based Econet Wireless unit Econet Media's broadcasting arm Kwesé has partnered with iflix to develop entertainment services in sub-Saharan Africa, a deal that would allow iflix Africa to "soon" launch its SVOD service in Zimbabwe to Econet Wireless mobile subscribers, Rapid TV News reports. Iflix's African unit also plans to roll out its services in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania.

* SoundCloud Ltd. is close to selling stakes to Singapore's Temasek Holdings, a move that would help stabilize the music-streaming service, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

* Indonesian travel startup Traveloka, which recently received funding from Expedia Inc., plans to ramp-up its tourist attraction booking service in 2018, CFO Henry Hendrawan told Reuters.

* Viettel unit Telemor has launched 4G services in Timor-Leste, The Nation reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Singtel Optus Pty. Ltd invested A$20 million in its Gold Coast mobile network ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games to improve coverage in the region.

* One Nation, an Australian political party, has softened its stance on the Turnbull government's media reform bill that seeks to update Australia's media laws, which include repealing the 75% audience reach rule and the "2 out of 3" media ownership rule, The Australian reports. The support of political parties One Nation and the Australian Greens is reportedly needed for the legislation to push through.

* Arclight Films, a U.S.-based production and film company, is rolling out an initiative that promotes the development of official co-productions between Australia and China. The Chinalight initiative is supported by federal funding agency Screen Australia's Enterprise Program.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Apple has asked the Indian government to extend tax breaks to its suppliers, sources told Reuters.

* PayPal Holdings Inc. has set up innovation labs at its Chennai and Bangalore tech centers, which will serve to support innovation across technologies such as machine learning, AI, data science and Internet of Things, VCCircle reports.

* BSNL will spend 1 billion Indian rupees to secure its broadband network with a cybersecurity infrastructure, The Economic Times (India) reports.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. is considering expanding partnerships with handset brands and over-the-top platforms, while teaming up with e-commerce players in a bid to retain subscribers and counter Reliance Jio's offerings, The Economic Times of India reports.

FEATURED NEWS

Industry observers welcome BT's universal broadband proposal in UK: Industry observers welcomed BT's pitch for universal high-speed broadband coverage in the U.K. as an ultimately good deal for consumers.

Data Dispatch: Discovery-Scripps deal tops July media M&As: Discovery Communications' proposed Scripps Networks purchase outpaces all other media deals in July with a recorded transaction value of $14.9 billion.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Economics of TV & Film: Growing digital market boosts video efficiency by rating up in 2016: Kagan's annual study of video efficiency and cost ratios by MPAA rating showed an increase in the 2016 efficiency ratio, when revenues from digital video were included, while the cost ratio was down slightly.

Global Multichannel: Discovery, Scripps highlight international upside in merger: During a conference call with analysts, Discovery Communications and Scripps Networks Interactive executives pointed to global strategic synergies as one of the biggest upsides to their recently announced merger.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Nicole Shiwon Kim, Emily Lai, Wil Hathaway and Kevin Osmond 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.