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Google understated revenue in Japan; SoftBank to lead US$700M funding in Katerra

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Google understated revenue in Japan; SoftBank to lead US$700M funding in Katerra

TOP NEWS

* Google LLC's Japan unit failed to declare about ¥3.5 billion in income for 2015 by shifting locally derived ad revenue to the Alphabet Inc. unit's office in Singapore, where tax rates are lower, The Yomiuri Shimbun reports. Google Japan has reportedly paid back taxes and penalties amounting to around ¥1 billion, after Tokyo tax authorities pointed out the issue.

* SoftBank Group Corp. plans to lead a US$700 million financing round in construction startup Katerra, The Information reports. The new investment will reportedly be led by SoftBank Vision Fund and will value Katerra at over US$4 billion. In 2018, SoftBank led Katerra's US$850 million series D round, according to Reuters.

* China's 4.4% year-over-year drop in exports in December 2018 was only partly due to the trade war with the U.S.; China's exports to Japan and Taiwan have also fallen. At the product level, a large part can be attributed to the telecom sector. Exports of handsets and components fell 31.1% in December 2018, compared to a year earlier.

JAPAN

* KDDI Corp. said it invested about ¥1 billion in local internet of things and machine-to-machine solutions company Ecomott Inc. KDDI plans to increase its corporate customer base by incorporating Ecomott's IoT technologies in industries such as construction.

* Sony Network Communications Inc. entered into an agreement with Tokyo-based public relations company Vector Inc. to set up a joint venture. The two companies plan to assist clients in maximizing their marketing activities by using the Sony Corp. unit's knowledge of artificial intelligence.

SOUTH KOREA

* SK Telecom Co. Ltd. and Pohang University of Science and Technology filed a patent for an antenna control technology to be used for the 5G 28 GHz spectrum, Digital Daily reports. The new technology, jointly developed by SKT and the university, is designed to optimize the electrical characteristics of an antenna to improve call quality and reduce power consumption.

* In other SK Telecom news, the South Korean telco started offering Rich Communication Services-based messaging solution on Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.'s Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 devices subscribed to SKT's mobile service, ETNews reports. The company plans to complete syncing its RCS service with that of KT Corp. and LG U+ in the first half of 2019 and to apply the service to other Android-based smartphones as well.

* LG U+ introduced a new mobile phone bill notification service that comes in the form of a two-minute video clip, ZDNet Korea reports. The telco explained that the new service will help subscribers understand their mobile phone bill better and consequently reduce the number of queries made to its customer service center.

* NAVER Corp. added a real-time mode function to its live video streaming service V LIVE by applying an ultra-low latency technology, which reduced latency from 10 seconds to about 2 seconds, News 1 reports.

CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

* Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei said the company never spied for the Chinese government and never would, adding that while he is supportive of the Communist Party, he will "never do anything to harm any other nation." According to The Wall Street Journal, the executive reiterated in a rare public appearance that he "would never harm the interest" of customers.

* Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. Ltd. unveiled a new messaging service designed to take on Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat, London's Financial Times reports. Called Duoshan, the app allows users to record and send each other short, private videos that disappear after 72 hours.

* Chinese food delivery company Meituan Dianping is venturing into the gaming industry and is hiring game developers, National Business Daily reports. The company is now looking to employ coders, designers and producers and has specified in job ads that it will focus on mini-games and simulation games.

* Wang Shuai, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s senior vice president of China corporate communications and marketing, refuted reports that company founder Jack Ma will acquire a 31% stake in Italian soccer club Inter Milan, saying that the matter is unheard of, Tencent News reports.

* Autonomous driving startup Pony.AI Inc. launched a WeChat mini-program that allows users to hail self-driving taxis. According to CNBC, the app was quietly released in December 2018 and is currently only used by employees and a few VIP users.

* Beijing-based startup Kuairu Technology debuted its instant messaging app called Liaotianbao, which has a voice-to-text transcription feature, Sina reports.

INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA

* Star India Pvt. Ltd.'s video streaming service Hotstar will invest 1.2 billion Indian rupees for original content, The Economic Times (India) reports, citing a source. The service also struck a partnership with 15 filmmakers, including Salman Khan and Shekhar Kapur, to offer exclusive content on its platform. Titled Hotstar Specials, the exclusive shows will start streaming by the end of March, according to Mint.

* Vodafone Idea Ltd. will hike employees' salaries around June, but promotions will be rare, people familiar with the matter told The Economic Times (India). The workforce of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India had not been given increments since 2017, as they were in the middle of a merger.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is working on regulations that will allow digital TV operators to return their spectrum and forgo the remaining license payments, Matichon reports. The new regulations are still subject to a public hearing before they can be passed.

* In related news, the NBTC hopes to hold the 700 MHz spectrum auction by May, Manager reports. A public hearing on the auction's regulations will be held by the end of February.

* Razer Inc., a Singapore-based gaming hardware company, launched its Razer Phone 2 gaming smartphone in Malaysia, Malay Mail reports.

AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

* Telstra Corp. Ltd. said it added capacity to its subsea cable infrastructure with its first large capacity purchase on the New Cross Pacific cable and further investment in the FASTER cable, strengthening the company's Japan-to-U.S. route.

* In other Telstra news, the Australian telco announced the resignation of director Jane Hemstritch from its board. Hemstritch, member of the remuneration committee and the nomination committee, is leaving to further develop philanthropic interests.

FEATURED NEWS

Data Dispatch: Analysis: 'Tougher year' ahead as Netflix manages growth, debt amid volatility: Analysts said recent strategic announcements indicate Netflix executives recognize that volatile market conditions and rising interest rates make the prospect of issuing more debt a less tenable strategy for the company in 2019.

FEATURED RESEARCH

Global Multichannel: M&A: A New Year Resolution for the South Korean Multichannel Market?: The South Korean multichannel market should see a year of upheaval as the three incumbent telcos look to acquire some of their cable competitors to accelerate growth in 2019.

Nozomi Ibayashi, Myungran Ha, Emily Lai, Ed Eduard and Wil Hathaway 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.