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China dismisses US hacking charges; SoftBank telecom unit flops on trading debut

TOP NEWS

* Beijing denied U.S. charges that two Chinese nationals stole identities and engaged in a conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud. "The U.S. made false accusations against the Chinese on the grounds of so-called 'cyber stealing,'" the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. "The move is a serious violation of the basic principles of international relations." The U.S. Department of Justice unsealed the indictment Dec. 20 and in a statement said the defendants "acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security's Tianjin State Security Bureau."

* The highly anticipated initial public offering of SoftBank Group Corp.'s telecom unit ranked not only among the biggest IPOs of the technology, media and telecommunication sectors but also one of the biggest to record a lower stock value by the end of shares' first day of public trading. Shares of SoftBank Corp. ended Dec. 19, the company's first day of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, down 14.4% from the stock's IPO price of ¥1,500 (US$13.34).

* SoftBank, through its SoftBank Vision Fund, is nearing a deal to invest US$1.5 billion in ride-hailing company GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd., with an announcement expected in January 2019, Reuters reports, citing a person with knowledge of the matter.

* Christmas came early for T-Mobile and Sprint executives in the form of key security clearances for the companies' pending merger, but deal opponents say the fight will move to next-level federal and state reviews.

JAPAN

* Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.'s NTT Communications Corp., will acquire a majority stake in Transatel SA, a French telco that provides internet of things cellular connectivity.

* Sony Pictures Animation Inc. named Garth Burkhard as its new senior vice president of publicity, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Burkhard most recently worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios. In his new role, he will concentrate on publicity and social media campaigns for Sony titles. Sony Pictures Animation is a unit of Sony Corp.

SOUTH KOREA

* Woowa Brothers Corp., the operator of food delivery service app Baedal Minjok, secured a US$320 million investment that values the South Korean startup at about US$2.6 billion. The investment round was led by Hillhouse Capital Management Ltd., which also invested 57 billion South Korean won in the company in 2016. Woowa Brothers will use the money raised to drive expansion into overseas markets and develop its autonomous robots.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is expanding the ecosystem of its standard technology for video, HDR10+, by strengthening partnerships with global content providers and mobile chip manufacturers, Financial News reports. The Samsung Group unit is also building a HDR10+ certification center in China to support logo and certification programs.

* KT Corp. began working on a government-led public safety network project, ZD Net Korea reports. As part of the project, the telco will set up networks across the nation and build three operation centers in Seoul, Daegu and Jeju.

* Kakao Corp. opened a global store of its character brand "Kakao Friends" in Tokyo, Digital Daily reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Feng Shixin, deputy director of the propaganda department’s copyright bureau of China, said that a first batch of new video games will get an approval soon, The Wall Street Journal reports. China's gaming industry has been hammered after regulators froze the approval process for new games, affecting companies like Tencent Holdings Ltd.

* In other Tencent news, its messaging app WeChat introduced a "Time Capsule" feature which allows users to record videos of less than 15 seconds to be put on their page for 24 hours, Caixin reports.

* Baidu Inc. will roll out a traffic alarm feature for its Maps feature, which can warn surrounding cars when an ambulance is approaching, Tech Node reports. The tech company partnered with the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, Beijing Red Cross 999 Emergency Call Center, and Beijing Yizhong Charity Foundation to test the feature.

* Shanghai-based online travel service provider Ctrip launched a new platform to step into the mini-video sector, The Paper reports. Travel Shoot is a networking platform for travelers to share video clips and photos.

* Hu Weiwei, the CEO and co-founder of Chinese bike startup Mobike of Beijing Mobike Technology Co. Ltd., resigned as chief executive for "personal reasons," South China Morning Post reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Facebook Inc. is working to develop its own cryptocurrency for transferring money through its WhatsApp Inc. messaging app, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The social media giant is developing a stablecoin, a special type of digital currency that will have its value pegged to the U.S. dollar to minimize volatility, sources said, adding that Facebook will focus first on the remittances market in India.

* Analysts said that customers of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. may face service interruptions in New Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal if the telco does not purchase spectrum from Reliance Communications Ltd., The Economic Times (India) reports.

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is engaging with the Indian government and telecom operators to provide "source code" for screening and testing to allay security concerns, The Economic Times of India reports, citing Huawei India chief Jay Chen.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Thailand 's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will open a 5G testbed in early 2019 in the Eastern Economic Corridor, which will focus on 5G solutions in transport, healthcare and tourism, Post Today reports.

* Thai telco Total Access Communication PCL will partner with four government agencies to promote digital literacy and e-commerce in rural areas. The move is part of the telco's digital community model, Net Arsa Pracharat, which aims to accelerate the growth of Thailand's digital economy.

* Singaporean telco StarHub Ltd. entered into an exclusive sales distribution partnership with Yippy Inc., a U.S.-based enterprise data intelligence company which offers a search and insight engine. As part of the deal, StarHub now has the exclusive rights to sell and distribute Yippy services in Singapore, according to a Dec. 21 news release.

* Japan's LINE Corp.'s Thai unit acquired SellSuki, a social commerce management provider. Sellsuki allows vendors to chat with buyers, and manage sales.

* TPG Telecom Ltd. will offer free mobile service in Singapore for a year for the first 20,000 people who register, The Straits Times reports. According to the report, the service will be a SIM-only plan that includes unlimited data and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls.

* CEO and co-founder of Indonesia-based online-to-offline startup Kudo, Albert Lucius, left the company and joined digital payment company OVO, DealStreetAsia reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australian telco Telstra Corp. Ltd. said it will deliver FOX SPORTS Australia Pty. Ltd.' 2019 cricket coverage in 4K ultra high definition.

* Spark New Zealand Ltd. opened 4 new mobile sites in New Zealand in Te Puia Springs, Tutara, Whakapunake and Hicks Bay, to strengthen and expand the coverage of mobile and wireless broadband services.

The Daily Dose will not appear tomorrow and Dec. 26 due to the Christmas holiday in Hong Kong. The next Dose will be sent out Dec. 27. Please visit our website for the latest news updates, or check us out at https://twitter.com/SPGMarketIntel.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Big deals expected to continue for cybersecurity in 2019 as sector consolidates: While 2018 brought the largest security software deal in a decade, news that another big name may be on the sales block lends support to analysts' view that cybersecurity's M&A hot streak is set to continue in 2019.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Indian TV market enters new era: While India's sheer size and diversity make it a naturally attractive market, its recent advances in audience measurement and the final stage of TV digitization are creating new opportunities for local and global players.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Patrick Tibke and Ed Eduardo 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.