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Wharf telecom unit sold for $1.2B; Google, HTC partner for Pixel phones

TOPNEWS

* HongKong-based Wharf (Holdings)Ltd. will sell its telecom unit to a consortium composed ofU.S.-based private equity firm TPG Capital Inc. and north Asia's for US$1.22billion, Reuters reports.Wharf T&Treceived several bidsin September but had narrowed them down to the TPG-MBK group and HongKong broadband service provider HKBN Ltd., the report said.

*Google Inc. partneredwith HTC Corp. forits new Pixelsmartphones, Android Authority reports.The Taiwanese handset maker will manufacture the unit's Pixel and PixelXL phones, but they will not be shipped with HTC branding. Instead, a small"G" logo appears on the back of the unit to indicate they are Googlephones, the report said.

PAN-ASIANNEWS

* Indianvideo-on-demand platform SpuulDigital Entertainment Pvt. Ltd expanded its Punjabi content libraryfor its 18 million viewers in India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and otherregions around the world. Accordingto NexTV News India, Spuul added more than 100 films to its collection, sourcedfrom producers and distributors such as Unisys, Lokdhun, Kumar Films and YellowMusic.

*NEC Corp. has secured a contractto supply digital TV transmitters to Colombia's public broadcasting service,Radio Television Nacional de Colombia, to support its terrestrial digitalbroadcasting expansion. The project is expected to be fully operational byAugust 2017, and Colombia is set to shift from analog to digital terrestrialbroadcasting by 2019.

* Japanesepublisher Shogakukan Inc. said Amazon.com Inc.'s Japan unit pulled 170 of its titlesfrom the subscription service Kindle Unlimited without any advance notice, The Nikkei reports.This follows a similar protest by Kodansha Ltd., which claimed Amazon Japandeleted more than 1,000 of its titles from the e-book service.

*U.S.-based online payment system provider Stripe officially started operationsin Japan after a beta service run in May 2015, Internet Watch reports.The service will enable users to make payments in 130 different currencies. Thecompany also partnered with the largest credit card provider in the country,Sumitomo Mitsui Card Co.Ltd. The size of the investment in Stripe was not disclosed. 

* SouthKorea's postal service, Korea Post, will resume selling budget mobile servicesnationwide, Korea Times reports.According to the report, 10 mobile virtual network operators will providenetwork services to support Korea Post's low-price mobile packages. 

* The SouthKorean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the country's majortelcos SK Telecom Co.Ltd., KTCorp. and LG UplusCorp. agreed to lift restrictions on buyers of 20% discount mobileplans, which did not allow them to switch to a different handset using the sameUSIM card, Yonhap News Agency reports.SK Telecom started the new practice Oct. 1, and the others will follow suit byJanuary 2017. 

* SouthKorean internet company Kakao Corp. is conducting a major update on the webversion of its email service, Daum Mail, to improve the user experience, ETNews reports. The newversion will fully incorporate the company's signature characters Kakao Friendsinto its interface, and be available along with the old version as a bufferuntil the end of this year.

, HONG KONG ANDTAIWAN

* HongKong-listed visual effects producer Digital Domain Holdings raised HK$309million in fresh capital through subscription and placing by Munsun VR Fund, alimited partnership backed by China Precious Metal Resources Holdings, the South China Morning Post reports.The proceeds will be applied to the firm's media entertainment business and generalworking capital.

*Taiwan-listed movie producer VHQ-KY raised NT$700 million through convertiblebonds, primarily for purchasing the stake of its Beijing office, China Times reports.The company will also seek opportunities for acquisitions in Europe and theU.S., and look to set up or buy a post-production company before the end of theyear using the remaining funds.

* Lu Qi,former executive vice president of Microsoft Corp., may join as co-president,leading its new businesses including artificial intelligence and map services, accordingto sources quoted by Sina. The report said Lu will work on product developmentand report directly to president and CEO Ma Huateng.

SOUTHEASTASIA

*Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commissionplans to have an early auction for the country's 1,800 MHz spectrum in July2017, Krungthep Turakij reports. Thestarting price is reportedly set at 45 billion Thai baht. 

*Telenor ASA'sMyanmar unit is set to add almost 4,000 telecom towersin the next two years to expand its network coverage in the country, whichwould amount to more than 10,000 sites, Mobile World Live reports.Telenor Myanmar also revealed that it operates more than 85,000 points of salethroughout the country and that its market share has increased to 37%, thereport said.

*Indonesia's Ministry of Communication and Informatics isexpected to extend the broadcasting permits of 10 privately-owned broadcastersthat are expiring this month, according to Indotelko. The extension decision iscurrently awaiting authorization from the Indonesia BroadcastingCommission.

*Indonesian telco PT XL AxiataTbk strengthened its 3G network on Sumatra Island from an averagecoverage of 58% to 83%, Bisnis.com reports. Eka Dwidasa Kurnia, general manager of thecompany's central-west operational sales, said the 3G improvement utilizes the900 MHz band and covers 352 cities.

*Philippine broadcaster 's drama series "LaPromesa," or "Pangako Sa'yo," premiered on Peruvian TV through thenetwork PanAmericana, World Screen reports.ABS-CBN Internationalrepresents the Filipino series in the global market.

*Indonesian venture capital firm Convergence Ventures is set to close its US$25million fund soon, Deal Street Asia reported,citing managing partner and co-founder Adrian Li. The company expects to clinchthree new deals by the end of this year and invest in at least 10 new companiesin 2017.

*Thailand-based TrueMoney, a subsidiary of Ascend Group Pte Ltd., launched TrueMoney Transfer,which allows for real-time transfers from Thailand to Myanmar, The Nation reports.The service reportedly enables migrant workers to send money home with acheaper fee structure.

*Malaysian telco Axiata Group Berhad announced that the independent andnon-executive member of its board of directors, Dato Abdul Rahman Bin Ahmad,resigned from his position, Telecompaper reports. He has been appointed president and group CEO ofMalaysian sovereign wealth fund Permodalan Nasional Berhad.

* Thaitelco Advanced Info Service Plc appointed Hui Weng Cheong as president, Krungthep Turakij reports. Cheong,who will also continue to serve as COO, has been with AIS for more than 10years.

AND NEW ZEALAND

*Australian subscription video-on-demand service Presto will shut down Jan. 31,2017, after Seven West MediaLtd. sold all its shares to co-owner , Reuters reports.Presto subscribers will be rolled over to Foxtel's streaming service.

* Afterdeciding to discontinue Presto, Australian pay TV provider Foxtel announcedthat the revamped version of its streaming service Foxtel Play will beavailable to users in December. New offerings include lower prices, flexiblepackages and no fixed-term contract.

*Australian streaming video service Quickflix Ltd. was sold to Karma Media Holdings forA$1.3 million, The Sydney Morning Heraldreports.Karma Media plans to retain 24 employees and pay all entitlements owed toformer employees. Quickflix went into administration in May.  

*Australian retail and wholesale voice-over-IP provider MNF Group inked an MVNOdeal with Telstra Corp.Ltd.'s Wholesale unit, ZDNet reports.The deal will allow MNF to offer 4G and 3G services.

AND SOUTH ASIA

*Vodafone Indialaunched its own OTT app, accordingto Television Post. Vodafone Play aggregates content from OTT services such asHooq, Hungama Movies and ZEEL's dittoTV, enabling it to provide 45,000 hours ofcontent. The app is free to all Vodafone subscribers until Dec.31.

* India'sspectrum auctionentered the 15th round on its third day, The Economic Times (India) reports,adding that bidding reached the 100% activity level despite the 700 MHz and 900MHz bands not getting any bids yet. Bidding interest reportedly remainscentered on the 1,800 MHz and 2,300 MHz bands, which can be used for 4G services.

* India'sZindagi channel will replace the Pakistani TVshows it has been airing with Indian and Turkish content, The Indian Express reports.This development comes after the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authorityannounced a ban onIndian TV channels.

FEATUREDNEWS

: The just-ended quarter was a busy one forprivate equity investments in the media and communications space. 

: In this monthly feature, S&P GlobalMarket Intelligence provides a roundup of news related to over-the-top,video-on-demand and other online video initiatives in a range of southernEuropean markets, including Portugal, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Greece. 

: London's venture capital circles are defiant ina city grappling with its future role following the U.K.'s vote to leave theEuropean Union.

: R.W. Bairdanalyst William Power said Netflix could become a potential takeover target forDisney, Apple or some other company, while Google is set to unveil new devicesat an event today, including a new line of smartphones. 

:Two investor groups led by CVC Capital Partners and Cinven emerged as theleading bidders for Naspers' Polish e-commerce unit Allegro, while Google securedanother extension to respond to the European Commission's antitrust charges. 

FEATUREDRESEARCH

: Presenting the editor's top picks fromSNL Kagan's exclusive research and analysis for the week ended Sept. 30. 

: According to new forecasts from SNL Kagan, cable operatorswill transition toward more software-focused virtual converged cable accessplatforms beginning in 2017 and will increase their spending on these platformsto $670.6 million in 2021. 

: With all of the talk about skinny bundles, it'sbeen interesting to watch deal after deal fall quickly into place for thefourth-quarter launch of DIRECTV Now, the satellite provider’s VSP play.

: TiVo, one of the TV industry pioneers of the DVR, wants theworld to understand that it is more than just a hardware vendor. 

: Despite the challengesfacing the industry, the U.S. cable TV ad market continues to be a solidbusiness for programmers. 

Nozomi Ibayashi,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. Someexternal links may require a subscription.