KrASIA Daily: SoftBank Mulls Investing $1 Billion in China’s Truck-hailing Unicorn Manbang

Plus, Alibaba is in talks to build a logistics center in Thailand. Facebook is heading toward its worst month since May 2013.

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KrASIA Daily: SoftBank Mulls Investing $1 Billion in China’s Truck-hailing Unicorn Manbang

Editor’s note:

Manbang runs a mobile app that matches truck drivers with shippers and its existing investors include Yunfeng Capital, Sequoia Capital China, and All-Stars Investment.

A SoftBank investment would come from its investment vehicle Vision Fund, which has also invested in Uber and Didi Chuxing.

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 hinglish Notes on Flickr.

Thailand: Alibaba is in talks with the Thai government to set up a logistics centre in the country as part of its aggressive expansion into the Southeast Asia region, bringing the company a step closer to fulfilling founder and executive chairman Jack Ma Yun’s dream of empowering small companies to trade globally. (scmp)

Malaysia: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government tabled a bill in parliament on Monday outlawing “fake news“, with hefty fines and up to 10 years in jail, raising more concerns about media freedom in the wake of a multi-billion dollar graft scandal. (Bangkok Post)

Singapore: US-based blockchain technology solution-focused Long Blockchain Corp has made a strategic investment in Singapore-based TSLC Pte Ltd, the parent company of CASHe, a provider of digital money and short-term financial products to millennials across India. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Averspace, a Singapore startup that is digitalising the rental contract process, announced today it has inked a deal with Frasers Property Singapore to begin bringing the commercial leasing process online. (e27)

Singapore: Ryan Rakestraw, a former executive at Monsanto’s corporate venture unit, has joined Singapore’s Temasek as an associate director in the state-owned investor’s agriculture-focused venture arm. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Embattled commodity trader Noble Group Ltd. issued a defense of its planned restructuring, saying that if shareholders vote down the plan, it will probably enter insolvency proceedings in the U.K. and existing equity holders risk being wiped out. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Amid a surge of deals backed by private equity money and a barrage of capital flowing to Southeast Asia from China, small- to mid-market deals with valuations below $200 million, which may have been under the radar earlier, are now attracting interest among local and regional private equity funds, law firm Dentons Rodyk has said. (Deal Street Asia)

Indonesia: Indonesian content network platform GetCRAFT is in talks with potential investors to raise more than $5 million in a Series A funding round, which it expects to close in the last quarter of this year. (Deal Street Asia)

Thailand: Thailand’s Carabao Group Pcl, energy-drink maker and sponsor of a high-profile English soccer competition, has fallen almost 40 percent on a total return basis from a peak in October last year. The drop is the worst globally among soft-drink makers with a minimum $1 billion market capitalization, data compiled by Bloomberg show. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: ComfortDelgro Savico Taxi, a joint venture of Saigon General Service Corporation (Savico) and Singapore’s largest taxi operator ComfortDelGro, has suspended its business to preserve funds and restructure its taxi-related business in the wake of competition from rivals. (Deal Street Asia)

Malaysia: Tony Fernandes, the co-founder of AirAsia Bhd, is seeking to transform Asia’s biggest budget airline into an asset-light, digitally focused firm after the $1 billion sale of its leasing business, in an effort to foster sustainable growth. (Deal Street Asia)

China:

Image credit to SoftBank.

Japan’s SoftBank Group is looking to invest $1 billion in Manbang,  a Chinese truck-hailing company backed by internet giant Tencent Holdings and a private-equity firm co-founded by billionaire Jack Ma, according to people familiar with the matter. (WSJ)

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and US car maker Ford have unveiled an unstaffed car vending machine in China’s southern city Guangzhou. (SCMP)

Airline caterer Gategroup, part of China’s cash-strapped conglomerate HNA Group, has ditched plans to list on the Swiss stock exchange in a deal valuing the company at up to $2.8 billion. (Deal Street Asia)

Live broadcasting app Inke filed to list on HKEX. The company generated a revenue of RMB 3.9 billion (approx. $ 621.6 million) in 2017, while its net profit reached RMB 792 million (approx. $ 126.2 million). Its MAU in Q4 2017 was 25.18 million. (36Kr)

iKang Healthcare has accepted the privatization offer by Yunfeng Capital and an Alibaba’ wholly owned holding subsidiary. (tech.qq)

Starting from this June, Mobike is going to launch its service in 20 Japanese cities with 4000 parking lots arranged to deter messy parking. (Sina)

Smartphone maker HTC reports approximately $ 337 million in its net loss in Q4 2017, almost tripling the number in the same period of 2016. Its revenue dropped 29%. (Sina)

Robin Li Yanhong, chief executive officer of Baidu, defended autonomous driving technology on Monday, saying it was much safer and caused fewer traffic accidents than human drivers, just days after a self-driving Uber Technologies car failed to slow down and killed a 49-year-old woman in the US. (SCMP)

Baidu launched its first smart speaker with a screen which is priced at RMB 599 each (approx. $ 95.6). (36Kr)

World:

Image credit to Facebook.

Facebook Inc. is heading toward its worst month since May 2013 after an analyst report warned of a temporary pullback in advertising and the FTC confirmed it’s investigating the social network’s privacy practices. (Bloomberg)

Google signed a deal with Shopify Inc. to help host the e-commerce company’s online stores on the Alphabet Inc. unit’s cloud service. (Bloomberg)

The deal brings a new, fast-growing customer into Google’s fold as cloud chief Diane Greene tries to catch Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. in the lucrative business of internet-based computing. (Bloomberg)

Japanese investment giant SoftBank Group, Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and a private equity fund managed by Morgan Stanley are in the fray to acquire around 33 per cent stake in Financial Information & Network Operations (FINO), according to a source-based report in The Economic Times. (Deal Street Asia)

Twitter Inc. is joining Facebook and Google in banning advertisements for initial coin offerings and token sales on its social-media platform. (Bloomberg)

Meditation start-up Calm is being rewarded by investors. Insight Venture Partners is leading a funding round that values Calm at about $250 million, according to sources familiar with the matter. The total funding will exceed $25 million, said the sources. (CNBC)

YouTube TV announced this morning it will become the first-ever presenting sponsor of the 2018 NBA Finals as the result of a multi-year partnership focused on raising consumer awareness of YouTube’s streaming TV service. (Tech Crunch)