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Asia-Pacific deals: Bain Capital to buy Asatsu-DK; Tata Tele, Airtel to merge

The Asia-Pacific edition of M&A Replay presents a biweekly wrap-up of media and communications deal announcements, completions and updates in the region.


* U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital LP initiated a tender offer to acquire common shares of Asatsu-DK Inc., Japan's third-largest advertising agency after Dentsu Inc. and Hakuhodo Inc., from WPP International Holding B.V. and others for nearly ¥150 billion, according to an Oct. 2 release. WPP will seek to block Bain Capital LP's takeover bid for Japanese advertising company Asatsu-DK Inc., the Financial Times (London) reported Oct. 2.

* Tata Group on Oct. 12 announced that it struck a deal to merge the consumer mobile businesses of its two telecom units into Bharti Airtel Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. The deal means Bharti Airtel will absorb the consumer mobile segments of Tata Teleservices Ltd. and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd. in 19 service areas across India.

* SoftBank Group Corp.'s Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile U.S. Inc. are working on the final details of a merger that may be announced by the end of October, Bloomberg News reported Oct. 6, citing people with knowledge of the matter.


* Chinese regulators are looking to acquire stakes in tech companies such as Tencent Holdings Ltd., Weibo Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. unit Youku Tudou Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 11. A stake in said companies would allow the Chinese government to be directly involved in management decisions.

* KKR & Co. LP sweetened its bid for Hitachi Kokusai Electric Inc., a unit of Japanese tech giant Hitachi Ltd., to ¥2,900 per share from ¥2,503 amid pressure from U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., Reuters reported Oct. 11. Following the move, a regulatory filing showed that Elliott raised its holding in Hitachi Kokusai Electric to 8.59% from 7.11%, one of many hikes since it first revealed a stake in the company in September.

* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. is eyeing the acquisition of a Taiwanese LED company with a micro LED technology, JoongAng Ilbo reported Oct. 11. The goal of the potential deal is to reportedly launch a home version of its Cinema LED, which is currently used for movie theaters.

* SOLiD Inc.'s Pantech Inc. sold its Internet of Things arm to optical communication company WooriNet Co. Ltd., The Korea Economic Daily reported Oct. 11. The South Korean company said that proceeds from sale will be used to sustain Pantech business and to pay for wage claims.

* China's Ministry of Commerce has greenlit HP Inc.'s acquisition of Samsung Electronics' printer business, with conditions including HP submitting a report every six months on prices and related data and HP not buying any stakes in other A4 printer manufacturers in China, Reuters reported Oct. 6.

* International Business Machines Corp., or IBM, on Oct. 4 announced it is acquiring Vivant Digital Business, an Australian digital and innovation agency, which will fold into the former's digital transformation division IBM iX, in an effort to expand the unit's strategy and design capabilities.

* China's bicycle-sharing services Mobike and Ofo are in talks over a merger to form a company with a valuation likely to exceed US$4 billion and to be the "single dominant player" in the market, according to Bloomberg News on Oct. 3, quoting people familiar with the matter.


* Indian media company Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. on Oct. 6 said it has agreed to acquire 9X Media Pvt. Ltd. and INX Music for an all-cash consideration of 1.6 billion rupees. ZEEL will also acquire the 26% stake it does not own in Zee Turner Ltd., its joint venture with Turner International India Pvt. Ltd.


* More than 99% of Idea Cellular Ltd. shareholders voted in favor of the merger between Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, Press Trust of India reported Oct. 13, citing a regulatory filing. The telcos have reportedly sought the approval of the National Company Law Tribunal and would need to gain the approval of the Department of Telecom.

* A consortium led by KKR & Co. LP is in talks to acquire Indian tower companies Bharti Infratel Ltd. and Indus Towers Ltd. for US$11 billion, multiple people in the know told The Economic Times (India) on Oct. 11. The buyer group includes Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and GIC Singapore.

* Reliance Communications Ltd. is reportedly renegotiating its deal with Canadian investor Brookfield to sell its 100% stake in its tower business instead of a previously agreed 51% stake, sources told CNBC-TV18 on Oct. 4.

* Aurora Group announced it would sell a 34% stake to Sharp Taiwan for NT$546.88 million, the Taipei Times reported Oct. 3. As part of the deal, Sharp Corp.'s Taiwan branch will partner with AURORA Telecom Corp. to boost its brick-and-mortar retail channels in Taiwan.

* Ghana's National Communications Authority has greenlit the merger between the local operations of Millicom's Tigo and Bharti Airtel, Press Trust of India reported Oct. 3. The merged entity will have a 3G license and a 2G license valid until January 2024 and October 2021, respectively.

* Reliance Communications' board of directors approved a decision to terminate the supposed merger of its wireless operations in India with Aircel Ltd. RCom said Oct. 1 that it allowed the deal to lapse "by mutual consent."