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SoftBank mulls US$1B WeWork investment; Vodafone, Idea talk merger in India


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SoftBank mulls US$1B WeWork investment; Vodafone, Idea talk merger in India


* SoftBank Group Corp. is considering an investment worth more than US$1 billion in shared-office space company WeWork, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The deal would reportedly be among the first by the Japanese conglomerate's planned US$100 billion technology fund.

* Vodafone Group Plc confirmed media reports that it is in discussions to combine its Indian unit Vodafone India with local rival Idea Cellular via an all-share deal. The British telco giant said it is in talks with Idea Cellular's parent, Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, but added that they may not lead to a deal. Analysts have told S&P Global Market Intelligence that a deal may trigger telecoms consolidation and a new price war in India.

* Sony Corp. recorded an impairment charge against the goodwill of its Pictures segment of nearly US$1 billion, citing "downward revision in the future profitability projection for the Motion Pictures business." The Japanese conglomerate also said that it will sell around a 5% stake in its medical website portal M3 to Goldman Sachs Japan Co. Ltd.


* Japanese trust banks are planning to launch legal actions against struggling Toshiba Corp. over an accounting scandal. Mitsubishi UFJ Trust & Banking Corp. is seeking ¥1 billion in damages on behalf of its client pension funds after Toshiba's shares slumped following the 2015 accounting scandal. Two other trust banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd. and Mizuho Trust & Banking Co. Ltd., are also planning to file similar suits.

* In other Toshiba news, the Japanese company is mulling a sale of its U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC to offset steep losses from its U.S. nuclear business, Jiji Press reports, citing sources. Toshiba bought Westinghouse for nearly ¥500 billion in 2006, but the subsidiary is itself suffering from losses. Last week, Toshiba announced that it is spinning off its chip business to compensate for the hit from its nuclear operations.


* South Korean mobile giant Kakao Corp. will invest 10 billion South Korean won in local mobile game maker Neptune, Yonhap News Agency reports. The two companies previously had a hit with the game "Friends Sachunsung." With this investment, Kakao aims for exclusive service of Neptune's two new games.

* The Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning will invest 257 billion South Korean won in 248 ICT projects in 2017, Financial News reports. Projects include artificial intelligence services, an Internet of Things convergence platform and applied virtual reality services, as well as three joint projects with the U.S. and China including IoT cloud system security assurance.

* Following Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s announcement of its Galaxy Note 7 investigation results, the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards will release results from a separate probe in early February, The Korean Economic Daily reports. Mobile industry sources reportedly said that KATS' results won't be different from Samsung's, so its announcement will focus more on establishing smartphone battery safety standards.


* Hutchison Global Communications, the fixed-line division of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecommunications, signed an internet package exchange (IPX) agreement with China Unicom Global. The move allows HCG clients to provide services like mobile data roaming and voice-over-IPX to China Unicom's more than 260 million mobile users in mainland China, as well as allow China Unicom to expand its global businesses using HCG's resources.

* China issued a five-year initiative for the information and communication security sector. Among its nine major goals are creating new ways to monitor security, putting new regulations in place, and increasing China's influence on global cybersecurity.


* Satellite operator Thaicom submitted a proposal to Thailand's Ministry of Digital Economy and Society offering state telco CAT Telecom a 30% stake in the planned Thaicom 9 satellite, The Nation reports. CAT Telecom has reportedly reserved 5 billion Thai baht to invest in developing its share of the satellite, and expects that if the deal could generate 1 billion baht per year in extra revenue.

* The Thailand Foundation for Consumers will file a lawsuit against four telcos — AIS, Dtac, True Corp. and CAT Telecom for allegedly withholding personal call detail records from their customers, Krungthep Turakij reports. It also called on the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to establish a better monitoring system to ensure that customer requests for personal call details are not ignored or rejected by network operators, which violates two regulations.

* Thailand's media and telecom regulator NBTC announced that it will distribute another 3.98 million digital TV coupons to help accelerate the country's digital switchover, Thai Rath reports. The coupons, which will be mailed to registered homeowners, can be exchanged for a 690 Thai baht discount on digital TVs or digital set top boxes at selected stores.

* Indonesian news aggregator startup Baca announced a US$10 million investment in a platform for writers and bloggers called, Merdeka reports. The investment will be used to pay content creators who upload news articles, opinion pieces, pictures and videos.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. authorized the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce as an Alibaba e-commerce training center in Thailand. The center will help push e-commerce development in Thailand and help local small- and medium-sized companies compete in the global market.

* Indonesian ride-hailing app Go-Jek formed a partnership with Blue Bird, the country's largest taxi operator, Tech in Asia reports. When a customer uses Go-Jek's Go-Car service, the customer may get a Blue Bird taxi if it happens to be closer, but for the same fixed rate.

* Philippine telco giant PLDT Inc. is partnering with Australian parental control device provider Fam Zone, which has a website-filtering feature parents can use to restrict their children's access to inappropriate sites and content, The Philippine Star reports.

* Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab's Indonesian operations appointed Badrodin Haiti as its chief commissioner, Indotelko reports. Haiti was previously head of Indonesia's police force from April 2015 to July 2016.


* Southern Cross Media Group, formerly Macquarie Media Group, entered into discussions to sell its northern New South Wales regional TV assets and operations to WIN Corp., along with acquiring WIN's i98FM radio station, The Australian reports. The proposed asset-swap deal comes after WIN and Southern Cross swapped their affiliations with Network Ten and Nine Network in July 2016.

* Berlin-based online lender Spotcap launched in New Zealand, Finextra reports. This comes as NZX-listed Heartland Bank Ltd. provides A$20 million in funding to Spotcap's Australian operations.

* Academy Xi, a Sydney-based institution that teaches virtual reality design, is planning to raise A$4 million by the end of February, The Australian Financial Review reports. The money will be used to add 45 people to Academy Xi by the end of the year, including more instructors and developers.


* Inc. added three Indian films to its Prime Video catalog by collaborating with C Sales International, the global arm of Indian studio Cinestaan Film Company. The tie-up will see Prime Video India become the exclusive home of indie films "Dev Bhoomi," "A Death in the Gunj" and "The Hungry."

* OTT platform YuppTV, through a partnership with multiplatform company IndiaCast, will air several Viacom18 channels on its Canadian platform, Television Post reports. Some of the channels include Aapka Colors, MTV India, Rishtey and Rishtey Cineplex.

* Tata Teleservices Ltd. reappointed N. Srinath as managing director for the next three years, The Economic Times (India) reports. Srinath has been associated with Tata Group since 1986 and previously held other positions across Tata companies.


Data Dispatch: Deal-hungry Cable One changes seats at M&A table: On its path toward future growth, Cable One may soon come to a fork in the road. In one direction lies further purchases of smaller operators; in the other, the potential for Cable One to be not the acquirer but the target.

Tech Time: Nokia, Orange team up to develop 5G-based services: In this feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a biweekly global roundup of the latest developments in technology.


Broadcast Investor: TV station multiplatform analysis 2017 update: New audiences targeted: Based on our TV station-level analysis of content offerings as of Jan. 26, total live over-the-air broadcast channels for the 1,693 full-power digital, 180 Class A and 258 low-power stations in the U.S. increased to 6,109 from 5,905 on Feb. 26, 2016, and from 2,518 at the end of 2010. Our counts include digital multicasts and mobile TV.

Economics of Networks: Multichannel subscribers will soon be Cloo-less: A few weeks after NBCUniversal opted to pull the plug on Esquire Network, the company will quietly shut down Cloo Network on Feb. 1, continuing to trim its cable network portfolio.

Global Multichannel: Discovery UK networks set for blackout after £1B carriage dispute with Sky: Discovery's channels are set to be removed from Sky's U.K. pay TV platform at midnight Jan. 31 after renewal talks between the programmer and its biggest local distributor broke down over commercial terms.

Joji Sakurai, Sunny Um, Frances Wang, Patrick Tibke 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.