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Sony buys Silvergate; SoftBank sells Wag Labs stake; Vodafone NZ launches 5G


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Sony buys Silvergate; SoftBank sells Wag Labs stake; Vodafone NZ launches 5G


* Sony Pictures Television Inc. acquired animation producer Silvergate Media Ltd. from its management team and private equity firm Shamrock Capital Advisors LLC. Under the deal, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. purchased 100% of Silvergate Topco, whose assets include Silvergate's 49% interest in a joint venture with Dalian Wanda Group Co. Ltd. The total purchase price was approximately US$195 million.

* SoftBank Vision Fund LP agreed to sell its nearly 50% stake in Wag Labs Inc. back to the U.S. startup, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing sources. SoftBank decided to take a writedown on its investment and cut losses after Wag Labs' discussions for a potential sale did not push forward.

* Vodafone New Zealand Ltd. launched its 5G mobile service in parts of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. The telecom operator will offer the next-generation mobile service free of charge until June 30, 2020.

* Tony Chen, founder and CEO of Chinese handset-maker OPPO, said the company is allocating US$7 billion for research and development over the next three years. OPPO plans to develop core technologies in hardware, software and system in addition to 5G/6G, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, big data and other next-generation technologies.


* Banijay Group SAS' Asian unit is teaming up with The Natural Studios, a joint venture between Bear Grylls, Delbert Shoopman and Banijay, to bring adventure programming to Southeast Asia and India. According to TBI Vision, the collaboration will see the companies producing long and short-form content for both local and global platforms.


* SoftBank Group Corp. plans to open a new office in the Shibuya Scramble Square building in Tokyo in 2020, Nikkei Asian Review reports, citing sources. SoftBank will also move its headquarters to Tokyo Portcity Takeshiba tower in Minato Ward in Tokyo next year. Both office spaces will be designed by WeWork Cos. Inc.

* Microsoft Corp. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. entered into a multiyear strategic alliance to deliver services for enterprise customers to accelerate digital transformation. As part of the strategic alliance, the companies will create Global Digital Fabric, a combination of Microsoft Cloud and NTT'S globally connected ICT infrastructure.

* Japan Broadcasting Corp., or NHK, appointed former Mizuho Financial Group Inc. executive Terunobu Maeda as its new president, replacing Ryoichi Ueda. Maeda's appointment is effective Jan. 25, 2020 for a three-year term.


* KT Corp.'s music streaming platform Genie Music launched Virtual Play, a service that allows users to watch music performances and albums in virtual reality, augmented reality and hologram technologies, Korea JoongAng Daily reports.

* LG U+ tapped Canada-based iBwave Solutions Inc. to design its 5G in-building network, which will allow the telco to provide faster 5G services, according to Yonhap News Agency.


* TikTok CEO Alex Zhu canceled planned meetings with several U.S. lawmakers in recent days. Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., both of whom have pressed TikTok for answers about its business, tweeted about the canceled meetings. In a statement, a TikTok spokesperson said the meetings were postponed until after the December holidays "to ensure these conversations are as productive as possible."

* Microsoft-owned software development platform GitHub Inc. is considering forming a China subsidiary amid concerns from Chinese developers that they could lose access to GitHub if Washington extends its export sanctions. GitHub COO Erica Brescia told London's Financial Times that Beijing was "very encouraging" of the company's expansion plans. If it decides to set up a China unit, GitHub might also explore joint ventures and the possibility of hosting its content in the country, Brescia added.

* Stock image providers Visual China Group and Imaginechina suspended their websites after China's internet regulator found issues with their online news services. The regulator said the companies engaged in internet news information services without having the proper licenses, Reuters reports.

* China continues to limit the release of historical dramas in the country, 21Jingji reports. TV stations and online streaming platforms are only allowed to stream one historical drama per month.

* Baidu Inc.'s mapping service Baidu Maps formed a smart transportation lab with nine universities and state-backed research institutions, 36Kr reports.


* OPPO plans to open its second research and development center in India, according to Alen Wu, company vice president and president of global sales. OPPO currently has one R&D facility in Hyderabad, and the second center may come up in Bengaluru, according to The Economic Times (India), which cited IANS.

* Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd. collaborated with California-based storytelling platform ComicFlix Inc. to launch Bollywood films in the comics format, Television Post reports. ComicFlix uses artificial intelligence and automation to convert movies into comic books.


* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission hoped to earn 120 billion baht from the auction of four 5G bands in February 2020, Prachachat reports. The regulator now expects to make less since operators have signaled that they are only willing to compete for the 2600 MHz band.

* iFlix Sdn. Bhd. partnered with tech company Migo to deliver paid and sponsored premium video content to customers in Indonesia with limited online connectivity. Slated to launch in the first quarter of 2020, Migo Indonesia will feature iflix content alongside curated films and TV series from Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

* True Digital Group, a subsidiary of Thai telco True Corp., established a wholly owned subsidiary in Indonesia with an investment of 24.99 billion rupiah, Nation reports. PT True Digital Indonesia will focus on running digital platforms for commercial purposes.

* TV Direct PCL will close down 13 of its 33 stores across Thailand by June 2020, Bangkok Post reports. The home-shopping channel cited economic slowdown and organizational structure upgrading as the reasons for the shutdown.

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. introduced an offering in Malaysia that will allow customers to form their own device packages depending on their needs, New Straits Times reports.


* The proposed merger of Seven West Media Ltd. and Prime Media Group Ltd. was rejected by WIN Corp. Pty Ltd. owner Bruce Gordon and former Domain Holdings Australia Ltd. CEO Antony Catalano. The deal is now in jeopardy as Gordon holds a voting power of 11.59% of all Prime shares, while Catalano holds a voting power of 14.57% of all Prime shares. As a result, Prime is consulting with Seven in light of the developments.

* Australian Radio Network Pty. Ltd. is selling its sports platform The Roar to athlete content provider AthletesVoice. The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, will be effective Dec. 31. The sale comes as ARN and its parent company HT&E Ltd. increasingly divest their non-audio assets, according to Mumbrella.


Q&A: Cable group CEO: Operators are not making a 'wholesale exit' from video: Matthew Polka, president and CEO of ACA Connects, a group that represents small and midsize cable and telecom companies in the U.S., says broadband has been a driver of private equity activities in the small and midsize cable space.


Economics of TV & Film: 2019 video charts see a 'Hollywood' ending: Two major theatrical hits are hitting video retail shelves just in time to become last-minute gifts for the holiday season. Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is estimated to be the top title when it comes to wholesale video revenue.

Joji Sakurai, Hyegyu Park, Frances Wang, Kevin Osmond and Wil Hathaway contributed to this report.

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