KrASIA Daily: Alibaba just Gave Birth to the World’s Biggest Unicorn

Plus, Ola in talks to buy Freshmenu. Grab Philippines will keep running the Uber app until April 15. 

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KrASIA Daily: Alibaba just Gave Birth to the World’s Biggest Unicorn

Editor’s note: 

Ant Financial, the financial affiliate of China’s e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, is in talks with investors to raise $9 billion. The company will be valued at almost $150 billion post-money, making it the world’s biggest unicorn. 

KrASIA Daily is a five-minute read to brief you everything you need to know to start your day. We only choose the latest tech & startup news that is worth your time, with a focus on Southeast Asia and China.

Southeast Asia:

Image credit to Grab.

The Philippines: Grab Philippines said it will keep the Uber app running in the country until April 15, partly in compliance with the order of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), the antitrust watchdog. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Taking on its new consumer protection role since the start of the month, the competition watchdog announced on Monday (April 9) that it will be conducting market studies on online travel booking and the transfer of personal data. (Todayonline)

Singapore: Consentium, a mobile chat app that also allows multi-digital currency transfer between users, today announced that it has raised US$10 million in additional funding via ICO, taking its total fundraise from private sales to US$20 million. Early last month, the Singapore startup secured US$10 million from its private ICO sale. (e27)

Singapore: Singapore-based early-medical technology startup NDR Medical Technology (NDR) has raised an undisclosed amount from SGInnovate, a government-linked Singapore corporation that nurtures deep tech startups, according to a statement. (Deal Street Asia)

The Philippines: San Miguel Corp., the Philippines’ largest company, expects to raise as much as $3.6 billion selling shares of its merged food and drinks unit in the fourth quarter in what could be the country’s biggest share sale on record. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: India-based solar EPC firm Sterling and Wilson has announced its plan to construct 300 MW of solar photovoltaic plants in Vietnam by June 2019 with an expected total investment of $250 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: Vietnam’s antitrust regulator has ordered Grab Vietnam to prove it hasn’t formed a monopoly in the country after the Singapore-headquartered ride-hailing major acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations last month. (Deal Street Asia)

China:

Image credit to Ant Financial.

Ant Financial Services Group, carved out of his e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. seven years ago, is preparing to raise $9 billion in a private funding round, according to people familiar with the matter. That ups a previous fundraising target of $5 billion. (WSJ)

China’s bike-sharing start-up Ofo is venturing into blockchain technology with plans to launch a rewards system in Singapore where users will receive cryptocurrency tokens for riding. (SCMP)

China’s media regulator ordered the country’s most widely used news site, Jinri Toutiao, to shut down one of its popular online accounts and step up efforts to clean up vulgar content, the latest instance of a government crackdown on online media. (SCMP)

A Beijing court specialising in intellectual property (IP) rights disputes has dismissed requests from Samsung Electronics seeking invalidation of Huawei Technologies’ certain patent rights on smartphones after an earlier local Chinese court decision banned sales of certain phone models from the South Korean brand. (SCMP)

A private tutoring group targeting primary and secondary schoolchildren in China said it is ready to expand into new markets, starting with a subsidiary school in Hong Kong this month. A move into the US is also on the cards for TAL Education in the summer, with discussions under way about acquiring new businesses there, according to its president, Bai Yunfeng. (SCMP)

Huya, China’s answer to the game-streaming site Twitch, is seeking to raise as much as US$200 million in an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. (SCMP)

Xiaopeng Motors, which counts Alibaba Group Holding and Foxconn Technology Group among its investors, plans to raise 17 billion yuan (US$2.7 billion) in funds this year as the Chinese car start-up seeks to take on rivals in the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles. (SCMP)

The CEO of Chinese tech company Xunlei said Monday there was no basis for the multiple class action lawsuits his company received from investors. The lawsuits allege that Xunlei — which is publicly listed in New York — knowingly participated in unlawful initial coin offerings (ICOs), and made false statements about the legitimacy of those activities that had an impact on the stock price, according to a report from CoinDesk. (CNBC)

WeChat, China’s most popular mobile app that hooked 100 million users to a simple platform-jumping game earlier this year, has launched new mini-games from its first collaboration with external developers, opening up a new source of revenue and pipeline of mobile gaming products. (SCMP)

Tencent is to launch its own smart speaker that offers functionality from the Tencent family such as sending WeChat messages via voice command and—unlike all the other smart speakers on the market, contains a battery and so is fully portable—according to 36Kr (in Chinese). The official launch date is not yet available, but the app is already up on Apple’s App Store. (Technode)

Artist Deng Yufeng bought the personal data of 346,000 Wuhan residents and displayed them at a Wuhan Art Gallery in an attempt to make people realize the extent of data leakage. He text messaged over 300,000 of the people to invite them to the gallery to see their data. The exhibition was reportedly closed after its first two days and Deng is still under investigation. (Technode)

Short video-streaming platform, Toutiao’s Tik Tok kicked off an anti-addiction system. (36Kr)

Qunar CFO ZHU Xiaolu joined co-working startup KrSpace as CFO. (36Kr)

Carmakers from BMW AG to Toyota Motor Corp. got some good news from China after President Xi Jinping reiterated a pledge to reduce import tariffs on vehicles this year, heeding decades-long pleas from companies seeking better access to the world’s biggest auto market. (Bloomberg)

World:

Image credit to Ola.

Ola has held talks to buy private label food firms following its purchase of food ordering app Foodpanda, three people familiar with the matter said, as the cab-hailing firm explores creating an independent food technology company. Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) has held talks to buy food brand Freshmenu and at least one similar firm, the people cited above said.  (Deal Street Asia)

Bengaluru-based logistics start-up Loadshare, which focuses largely on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), has raised an undisclosed amount of funding led by Stellaris Venture Partners and Matrix Partners India. (Deal Street Asia)

Elemential, a startup that helps businesses and developers build and manage customized blockchain networks, has raised an undisclosed amount from investors led by Matrix Partners India. (Deal Street Asia)

Uber Technologies Inc.’s $10 million settlement with women engineers who complained they were underpaid compared with men would also rid the ride-hailing giant of liability for potentially hundreds of sexual harassment incidents over the past five years. (Bloomberg)

Google has launched its smart speaker products Google Home and Google Home Mini in India, following Amazon into one of the world’s most promising markets for technology. (CNBC)