Kr-Asia Daily: IFC is to lend $185 million to promote SME lending in Vietnam

Plus, Rong 360’s affiliate listed on NYSE. General Motors is to rival Tesla as the company plans to launch its new electric car.

Southeast Asia:

World Bank’s private lending arm, International Finance Corporation (IFC), is to lend $185 million to Vietnam International Commercial Joint Stock Bank to promote SME lending. As an emerging manufacturing and commercial hub in Southeast Asia, Vietnam has approximately 600,000 SMEs while only 30 percent of those have access to bank capital. (DealStreetAsia)

Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Malaysia’s largest fund management firm, plans to boost private investments and fixed income assets while reducing its cash holdings. As part of the plan to optimize its asset allocation, the state-linked firm also plans to balance its international portfolio. (DealStreetAsia)

Singapore’s first homegrown bike-sharing company oBike will roll out geolocation services in partnership with UnaBiz for 1 million bikes. Beginning in Singapore and Taiwan, the technology enables the company to get up-to-date location of their bikes. This move addresses problems of vandalism, misuse, illegal parking and loss. (PR Newswire Asia)

Malaysian incubator and accelerator Sunway iLabs announced an investment of $480,000 in up to 10 startups in 2018. Both Malaysian and non-Malaysian startups can apply for the program. Listed startups will be able to access to resources in 12 business lines.  (e27)

Thailand is planning to offer free internet to poor people by providing SIM cards with fixed data limit. This move is to bridge the country’s digital gap. (e27)

China:

Baidu CEO Robin Li outlined a strategic shift towards artificial intelligence and driverless cars at Baidu World conference 2017. Li expects to see the mass production of driverless car soon in the future. Lu Pin, General Manager of Baidu hardware department, unveiled the company’s first ever AI powered speaker Raven H. (36Kr)

Jianpu Technology, affiliate of Chinese provider of customized financing and loan services Rong360, listed on the NYSE. The opening price of its stock stands at $8.25. The company’s debut saw a 3.1 percent rise compared to its offer price, standing at $8.25 while the closing price reached $8.4 with a 5 percent rise. (Tech.QQ)

Bluegogo, the third largest bike-sharing company, reached partnership with Green Bike-Transit, an NGO promoting cycling. The NGO is to operate Bluegogo which is reportedly closing down. Users will still be able to use Bluegogo’s bike-sharing service. (36Kr)

Pear Video, the largest Chinese informative short video platform, announced its $25 million pre-A financing round. Launched in 2016, over one thousand videos are produced on a daily basis and the total play volume has exceeded 500 million times. The financing round was led by People.cn’s PE affiliate. (Lanjinger)

Tencent is leading Ubtech Robotics’ $400 million Series C funding round. Ubtech Robotics, the Shenzhen-headquartered startup specializes in small humanoid robots for entertainment and educational purpose. (36Kr)

Chinese Fintech unicorn 9F Group has raised several hundreds of million US dollars in the latest funding round led by Cinda International Holding Ltd, Focus Media Information Technology’s chairman Jiang Nanchun, Youzu Interactive’s chairman Lin Qi and an unnamed listed industrial company’s fund. The company plans to integrate its digital financial services platform to connect customers with banks, insurer, consumer internet and e-commerce business. (DealStreetAsia)

World:

General Motors is to rival Tesla as the company plans to launch its new electric car in 2021. By reducing costs in the production, GM’s new electric vehicle is expected to make profit for the company. At the same time, Tesla is struggling with the production of its more affordable and hotly anticipated Model 3. (Reuters)

Volkswagen AG will invest more than $12 billion with its partners on new-energy vehicles in China. The company will make the investments by 2025 and will introduce 40 locally produced vehicles as part of its plan to step up investment in low-emission models. (Bloomberg)

Tesla is close to unveil its all-electric heavy-duty truck while analysts says the battery capacity, weight and costs will be the main restrictions to the truck. (Bloomberg)