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SoftBank pours US$1B into sports retailer; Apple accused of 'data colonization'

TOP NEWS

* SoftBank Group Corp. is investing US$1 billion of its Vision Fund in Fanatics Inc. as part of a funding round that would value the sports e-commerce company at US$4.5 billion, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal. Other investors include the NFL and Major League Baseball, which invested about US$95 million and US$50 million, respectively. The funding round is expected to be completed later this month, according to one of the sources.

* The Telecom Regulatory of India, or TRAI, has accused Apple Inc. of engaging in "data colonization" and being "anti-consumer" by not allowing its customers access to the watchdog's Do-Not-Disturb app, which lets consumers share details of bothersome calls and unsolicited messages to TRAI, The Times of India's Times News Network reports, citing TRAI Chairman R S Sharma. However, industry sources said Apple's refusal stems from the company's concerns around privacy and encryption of the information.

* Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing announced that it has partnered with Careem, a ride-hailing platform in the Middle East and North Africa, by investing an undisclosed amount to strengthen its market position in the region. The two parties have agreed to "share knowledge in intelligent transportation technology, product development, and operations."

JAPAN

* Japan Display Inc., the embattled LCD joint venture between Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., may accept a capital infusion from an outside partner as it seeks to restructure its business, The Nikkei reports. The display maker also plans to lay off more than 3,500 workers, mostly overseas, and cut back on LCD production as it turns to more profitable light-emitting diode displays.

* Sony Pictures Classics announced it acquired all rights for North America, Eastern Europe, Germany and Asia pay TV to Annette Bening's "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool." The film premieres next month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sony Pictures Classics is a unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment, under the Sony Corp. umbrella.

* Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. said the company and its six partners, including the research arm of telco KDDI Corp., demonstrated the world's largest transmission capacity with standard diameter multicore optical fiber.

* Japan ended June with 163.11 million mobile subscribers, with NTT DOCOMO Inc. having the highest number of subscribers at 75.11 million, followed by KDDI's au and SoftBank Mobile. Meanwhile, the number of broadband wireless subscribers at end-June was at 25.87 million, according to the Telecommunications Carriers Association.

* Rakuten Securities Inc., the online brokerage of e-commerce site Rakuten Inc., and SBI Securities Co. Ltd. are testing artificial intelligence software from NEC Corp. designed to detect market manipulation, The Nikkei reports.

* Yahoo Japan Corp. and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group are establishing a joint venture to sift through the Japanese bank's customer data for ideas to improve and expand its services, The Nikkei reports. The ¥300 million unit will reportedly be formed as early as September, with Yahoo Japan to hold a 51% stake and SMFG to own the remaining 49%.

SOUTH KOREA

* KT Corp. will complete the opening of 100,000 Wi-Fi access points to the public by the end of this week, ET News reports. The free Wi-Fi can be accessed via KT_Free_WiFi without a login. A source from the company reportedly said the move was made in line with the government's policy direction to reduce mobile phone bills.

* SK Broadband signed a memorandum of understanding with South Korean transmedia company Panorama Entertainment to use web comics platform Comica's content to produce original drama series for its mobile video streaming service Oksusu, E Daily reports.

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. will launch NUGU Mini, a portable artificial intelligence-powered speaker, equipped with an internal battery and measuring 8 centimeters in diameter and 6 centimeters in height, on Aug. 11, The Korea Economic Daily reports. The device can be used for up to four hours without charging.

* South Korean internet company Naver Corp. will debut its artificial intelligence speaker WAVE in South Korea on Aug. 11 through a promotion for Naver Music users, iNews24 reports. Starting at noon, new subscribers to the music platform's one-year unlimited music streaming service will be given the speaker on a first-come, first-served basis.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* China Unicom issued a clarification to the Shanghai Stock Exchange to emphasize that the setting up of two operating centers in alliance with Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is irrelevant to its mixed ownership reform and the company is still in talks with potential investors in the mixed-ownership reform and had not reached any binding deals.

* Guangzhou (Nanxiang) Cloud Services Data Center has gone live in China. Neo Telemedia Ltd. subsidiary Guangzhou Nowtop Technology Co Ltd. and Guangzhou Huade Industrial Ltd. jointly invested in the Chinese data center, a self-financing and self-operating project in China.

* Jia Yueting, founder of LeEco, updated his social media accounts on WeChat and Weibo to dispel reports that the company and investors have broken ties with him, China Daily reports. He said in a statement that electric car company Faraday Future will build a new plant in Hanford, California, on top of the planned facility in Nevada.

* Sony VAIO partnered with JD.Com Inc. to return to the Chinese market with two new series of products, Sina reports. VAIO Z series laptops are priced at 13,288 yuan, while the VAIO S series are sold at 9,488 yuan. Sharp also introduced the Aquos S2 smartphone in the Chinese market, according to Caixin. Luo Zhongsheng, vice president of parent company Foxconn, revealed that they will focus on the high-end market to sell phones that are priced at over 2,000 yuan.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* beIN SPORTS, a unit of beIN Media Group, has launched beIN SPORTS CONNECT, its football-focused, live sports streaming player, in Thailand.

* Indonesian motorcycle ride-hailing app company GoJek has acquired online ticket and event management company Loket for an undisclosed amount, Selular.id reports. The acquisition is expected to boost GoJek's existing online ticket booking service Go-Tix, which already has ticket booking services for 250 events and cinema chains in Indonesia.

* Thai telco Advanced Info Service launched AIS Fibre Power 4, a new postpaid package that combines AIS Fibre home broadband, AIS Playbox access, unlimited 4.5G mobile data and unlimited Wi-Fi access in a single subscription, Flashfly reports. AIS Fibre Power 4 customers will have access to over 140 live channels and 30,000 hours of video content, including HBO's "Game of Thrones" and other premium shows made available by AIS' exclusive content partnership with Netflix.

* Indonesian telco PT Sampoerna Telekomunikasi Indonesia, or Net1 Indonesia, has agreed to form a partnership with telecom infrastructure company PT Industri Telekomunikasi Indonesia to produce 450 Mhz compatible devices, Arena LTE reports. Net1 Indonesia will integrate the manufactured devices with their 4G LTE services.

* Indonesian operator PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk is currently evaluating about 10 new M&A initiatives to develop its business inorganically, Kontan.co.id reports. The management of the company is not willing to disclose the names of the potential target companies but indicated that one of the top priority sectors is telecommunications towers.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Australian Communications Minister Mitch Fifield rejected political party One ­Nation's demand to conduct a spending review of public broadcasters Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) (AU) in exchange for supporting the federal government's media ­reform package, The Australian reports.

* New Zealand Communications Minister Simon Bridges introduced the Telecommunications Amendment Bill to Parliament on Aug. 8. The bill, which supports the country's shift to fiber, is scheduled for first reading in mid-August.

* Telstra Corp. Ltd. said it teamed up with the New South Wales government and a host of partners to launch the state's first trial of a driverless vehicle.

* National Geographic Channel ordered a third season of "Outback Wrangler," an Australian TV series that follows an animal rescuer taking on crocodiles, C21 Media reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* The merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd. received a conditional approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, The Economic Times (India) reports. Sebi noted that Idea Cellular agreed to comply with the condition that the company will not dispose of shares purchased by its promoters before the merger announcement.

* SoftBank's Masayoshi Son said his company will remain "engaged" with Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd., a week after the latter's planned acquisition of Snapdeal collapsed, The Economic Times (India) reports.

* Anil Goteti, the head of Flipkart's marketplace and retail product and operations team, has been tapped to lead the recently acquired eBay Inc.'s India unit, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing an internal email by Flipkart.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd., through its subsidiary Nettle Infrastructure, off-loaded a 3.6% stake in Bharti Infratel Ltd. for about 26 billion Indian rupees to help lower the company's debt, The Economic Times (India) reports.

* Chinese smartphone brand Voto Mobiles is entering India. The China Mobile handset partner is eyeing 7 billion rupees worth of revenue and is looking to sell a million smartphone units in India by the end of the current financial year as it makes its way into the Indian handset market, a company official told The Economic Times (India).

* U.S.-based software company Citrix named Makarand Joshi as its area vice president and country head for the Indian subcontinent, The Economic Times (India) reports.

* Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, one of the oldest web history archive sites, has been blocked by several internet service providers and telcos in India, MediaNama reports.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Wireless CapEx creeps north as 5G gets closer: As the wireless industry begins work on 5G, the next-generation of wireless technology, operators are bracing for increased capital expenditures. But they are also focused on finding ways to keep costs under control.

Data Dispatch: Netflix scoops up comic featherweight as Marvel, DC mature: A recently announced deal to buy comic book publisher Millarworld makes clear Netflix's intent to compete in the booming comic content industry.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: Kagan Report: Asia leads UHD TV channel growth in Q2'17: Q2 2017 UHD report update: By the end of Q2 2017, the number of available UHD channels worldwide reached 115, compared to 95 in Q1, and we expect the number of channels to hit 307 by 2021.

Wireless Investor: New Kagan dataset: Global tower sales: To compare global values of pole-style wireless communication towers, Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, reviewed details on more than 140 tower deals in 17 countries from 2010 through mid-2017.

Joji Sakurai, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Wil Hathaway and Ed Eduard 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.