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Tencent, Alibaba eyeing Temasek's stake in A.S. Watson; Megvii plans US$800M IPO


* Tencent Holdings Ltd. is considering buying a portion of Temasek Holdings (Pte.) Ltd.'s stake in health and beauty retailer A.S. Watson Retail (HK) Ltd., Bloomberg News reported, citing sources. The Chinese internet giant may tap some investment funds to lodge a joint bid for a 10% holding in A.S. Watson that Temasek is considering selling, reportedly worth about US$3 billion. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is also interested in buying the stake.

* Beijing-based artificial intelligence startup Megvii Technology Ltd. is looking to raise up to US$800 million in an initial public offering, the South China Morning Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The company has not yet decided whether to go public in New York or Hong Kong.

* NVIDIA Corp.'s GeForce Now Alliance partnered with SoftBank Group Corp. and LG U+ as Nvidia looks to make cloud gaming over 5G wireless networks a trend.


* NTT Docomo Inc., the mobile arm of Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., plans to separate its smartphone and mobile communication fee structures by ending payment plans that combine the two, Nippon News Network reported. DoCoMo is moving to end plans that lock customers into a mobile communications contract upon purchasing a new device. KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. are making similar moves as Japan's major mobile operators are under pressure to slash fees to allow greater competition from low-cost carriers.

* In other DoCoMo news, the mobile carrier announced an investment in Finnish cloud gaming startup Hatch Entertainment Oy. The investment was made through DoCoMo's venture capital arm NTT Docomo Ventures Inc.

* SoftBank and Silicon Valley startup Cohesity Inc. announced a joint venture in Japan to offer the Cohesity DataPlatform for data backup, storage and management. The joint venture will operate under the name of "Cohesity Japan KK."


* Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. vowed to promote technology innovations and to expand investments in growing tech segments, such as artificial intelligence and 5G, Yonhap News Agency reported.

* Kakao Corp. is set to penetrate the tourism industry after acquiring a 28.9% stake in Tidesquare Co. Ltd. for about US$30.7 million, The Korea Herald reported.

* In other Kakao news, the internet company's blockchain subsidiary Ground X is set to unveil its public blockchain platform Klaytn in June, Korea JoongAng Daily reported.


* China-based online brokerage UP Fintech Holding Ltd., known in Asia as Tiger Brokers, priced its IPO of 13 million American depository shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market at US$8.00 apiece. Xiaomi Corp., one of the principal shareholders of UP Fintech, expressed its interest in buying up to US$5 million ADSs at the IPO offering price.

* Guodong Group, a Shenzhen-based wireless infrastructure company, is eyeing a US$300 million initial public offering in Hong Kong this year, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News.

* IQiyi Inc., a video streaming platform owned by Baidu Inc., plans to create an entertainment-focused social media-oriented short-video sharing platform by 2020, Bloomberg News reported, citing Gong Yu, founder and CEO of iQiyi.

* Meitu Inc., a Chinese smartphone maker and app developer best known for its selfie apps, recorded a 1.2 billion yuan net loss in 2018 due to its smartphone and e-commerce businesses. As a result, the company's headcount has reduced by approximately 30% in the second half of 2018.

* Tencent Holdings is looking to lay off nearly 10% of its current managers and plans to replace them with younger executives as the company tackles a slowdown in growth, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. China's gaming and social media giant will reportedly promote star performers.

* Microsoft Corp. launched an AI and VR-supported public service platform in the Chinese city of Qingdao. The company will develop technologies including AI, VR, cloud computing and big data application. Microsoft also plans to enhance the use of AI in the province's high-end manufacturing businesses.

* ZTE Corp. President Xu Ziyang said the company will debut its 5G devices in China and Europe in the second quarter, Jiemian reported.

* China's National Radio and Television Administration will deploy more resources on the development of high-definition TV, including content production, transmission network enhancement and the accessibility of relevant devices, China Securities Journal reported.


* Vodafone Idea Ltd.'s board approved the issuance of 20 billion fully paid up equity shares at 12.50 Indian rupees apiece to raise as much as 250 billion rupees. The rights issue will open April 10 and will close on April 24.

* Bharti Airtel Ltd. further reduced its shareholding in Bharti Infratel Ltd. by transferring 310 million shares, which represents Airtel's 16.76% stake in Infratel, to Nettle Infrastructure Investments Ltd. According to The Economic Times, Airtel is parking its stake in Nettle Infrastructure, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, as it plans to monetize its stake in Infratel.

* Xiaomi launched its unified payments interface app MI Pay to users of its MIUI operating system in India, according to The Economic Times (India).

* China Mobile Pakistan Ltd., known as Zong, entered into a partnership with Wateen Telecom Ltd. which will see Zong acquiring an exclusive optical fiber to supplement its network coverage across the country, InfoZonePK reported.


* Dentsu Aegis Network Ltd. has agreed to fully acquire Vietnam-based digital creative agency Redder Advertising Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will help expand Dentsu's Vietnamese business while boosting the capabilities of fellow Dentsu-branded agencies including Dentsu One.

* Singapore-based ride-hailing app GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. is in discussions with Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial Services Group to raise funds for its financial services unit, Deal Street Asia reported. The news comes shortly after Grab launched its lending services and micro-insurance products, marking its venture into financial services market.

* Indonesia is taking steps to lobby the Philippines government to allow ride-hailing app PT Go-Jek Indonesia to operate in the Philippines, Detik reported.


* The Australian government announced plans to invest an additional A$160 million in the Mobile Black Spot Program, which aims to address connectivity issues across communities in Australia.


Data Dispatch: After a record 2018, questions ahead for big tech on big stock buybacks: Apple spent $74.25 billion on share repurchases in 2018, more than all companies in six separate industries tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Ahead of Apple's March quarter results, some question how long that pace can last.


Technology: Update: OTT vendors in use: Kagan has updated its over-the-top vendor-in-use product. Presented in this update are more than 700 OTT service providers operating in 50+ countries and more than 150 vendors.

Joji Sakurai, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Patrick Tibke 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.