KrASIA Daily: Uber Close to Sell SE Asia Operations to Local Rival Grab, Although Pledged Earlier Aggressive Investment in The Region

Plus, Nasdaq-listed YY.Inc’s game streaming unit Huya lands strategic investment worth USD 461.6 million from Tencent. Japan punished seven cryptocurrency exchanges.

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KrASIA Daily: Uber Close to Sell SE Asia Operations to Local Rival Grab, Although Pledged Earlier Aggressive Investment in The Region

Editor’s note:

Uber’s deal with Grab comes as its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi strives to take the company to the public market sometime next year, and a healthier balance sheet certainly looks better in the eyes of investors.

Additionally, with the retreat from Southeast Asia markets, Uber now can sharpen its focus on those strategic markets, including the U.S., Europe as well as Latin America.

Previously, Uber said it will invest aggressively in SE Asia even though the company expects to lose money in the region. 

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.

Singapore: Singapore-based ride hailer Grab is close to signing a deal with Uber buying out the latter’s Southeast Asia operations the earliest this week or next, Bloomberg and Reuters reported Thursday citing sources. (KrASIA)

The Philippines: CLSA, the offshore platform of Chinese investment bank CITIC Securities, is working on the finance for a new $10 billion airport in Manila as part of its push into Southeast Asia and China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Private-hire car services Uber and Grab could be regulated in the future, and even subject to licensing, as the Government undertakes a review of the point-to-point transportation sector. (The Straits Times)

Singapore: Alpha JWC Ventures and Insignia Ventures Partners have led a $2.3-million pre-Series A funding round in Singapore-based payments startup RateX. The startup said the financing is one of the largest pre-Series A rounds raised in Southeast Asia. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: High-end restaurant chain Nusr-Et Steakhouse could come under new ownership soon as a consortium of investors, including Singapore’s Temasek and GIC, are reportedly closing in on a $1.5-billion deal, according to the Financial Times. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: B Capital Group has added two more startups to its portfolio by leading investments in artificial intelligence (AI) startup Atomwise and sport fishing social network app Fishbrain. (Deal Street Asia)

Singapore: Singapore’s national carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) will acquire 70 percent stake in the in-flight sales company DFASS SATS Pte Ltd, a joint venture owned by ground handler Sats and duty-free retailer DFASS, in a bid by the airline to offer travel-related retail operations in Singapore. (Deal Street Asia)

Myanmar: The GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund, which provides equity-free grant funding to startups in Asia-Pacific and Africa, has chosen New Day (Neh Thit) and Kargo from Myanmar for a grant support worth six-digit dollars each, it announced in February. (Deal Street Asia)

Thailand: Swiss private banking group Julius Baer and Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) Thursday signed agreement to establish a wealth management joint venture (JV) focused on bringing relevant and impactful advice and solutions to the growing Thai private banking market. (Deal Street Asia)

Thailand: Beacon VC, a venture capital arm of Thai bank Kasikornbank Plc (KBank), on Wednesday announced an undisclosed investment in Ookbee, a Southeast Asian digital lifestyle platform, to help the latter expand C Channel Thailand. (Deal Street Asia)

Vietnam: Vietnam’s mobile platform provider Appota has acquired Wifi Chua, a tool for sharing and connecting to free WiFi passwords, lifting its total users in mobile service ecosystem in the country to 50 million. (Deal Street Asia)

Malaysia: Carsome, an online used car platform headquartered in Malaysia, has raised $19 million in a Series B funding round led by Burda Principal Investments and joined by Gobi Partners. (Deal Street Asia)

China:

PlayerUnknown’s Battleground.

Nasdaq-listed YY.Inc‘s game streaming unit Huya lands strategic investment worth USD 461.6 million from Tencent. (36Kr)

Major cryptocurrency including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin have all plummeted nearly 10% in the past 24 hours, after facts surfaced about a major hack in the world’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance. (China Money Network)

Chinese video streaming app Inke is reportedly seeking an initial public offering in Hong Kong after a failed attempt last year to complete a back-door A-share listing in China. (China Money Network)

Game streaming platform Douyu (斗鱼) will receive $630 million (RMB 4 billion) financing from Tencent and sign a strategic agreement with the company. (Technode)

A consortium of leading global investors like Temasek and Sequoia Capital China have joined the $90-million Series A financing round of Shanghai-based biotech startup, JW Therapeutics, the companies announced on March 7. (Deal Street Asia)

GXG, the Chinese men’s fashion retailer controlled by L Catterton Asia, is planning a Hong Kong initial public offering that could raise about $300 million, according to people with knowledge of the matter. (Deal Street Asia)

Baidu announced that it will launch its own institute for quantum computing dedicated to the application of quantum computing software and information technology. (Technode)

China Resources Beer is in talks to acquire Heineken NV’s China business in a deal that could be worth more than $1 billion, as the country’s largest brewer seeks new growth from premium brands, five people close to the discussions said. (Reuters)

Tongcheng-Elong Holdings Ltd., a travel company backed by Tencent and China’s largest travel website Ctrip.com International Ltd., is planning an initial public offering in Hong Kong in the second half of this year, according to people familiar with the matter. The Chinese company could raise between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in its share sale, one of the people said. (WSJ)

WANG Jin, Baidu‘s ex-head of the self-driving unit, founder and CEO of JingChi, an autonomous driving startup, has stepped down from the company and rumor has it that the move is in response to a lawsuit filed by Badiu against Wang.  Wang recently said his resignation has nothing to do with Baidu and the allegation by Baidu is far from the truth. (36Kr)

Foxconn is likely to list in China by the end of the month. (Finance.QQ)

Geely‘s chairman of the board, LI Shufu, said the automaker is investing heavily in new energy cars and 90% of the Geely cars will be powered by new energy by 2020. (CNStock)

Riding the wave of AI, Baidu‘s ex-VP LI Mingyuan co-founded a startup dubbed Puppy dedicated to robotics. (DoNews)

WU JIhan, founder of Bitmain,  one of the world’s largest Bitcoin hardware mining producers, said he is going to invest in 20-30 startups in private banks who could issue currencies to institutions. (36Kr)

Regulators in Shanghai asks China’s ride-hailing companies Dida Chuxing and Yongche to tighten the regulation on drivers on their respective platforms. (Shanghai Fabu’s WeChat account)

Tencent Cloud rolled out solutions for smart vending machines, enabling machines to automatically recognize purchases made by customers and allowing automate payment via WeChat account. (36Kr)

Tencent reached a partnership with Changhong and launched a smart TV enabled by Tencent’s AI assistant Dingdang.  (36Kr)

WeChat Pay and Alipay are fighting hard to lure HK people away. Tencent subsidiary WeChat Pay HK claimed a 44% increase in registered numbers in February when it decided to get into the Hong Kong market. (Asia Times)

Several Chinese fintech companies are rushing to get listed before the end of June this year, the deadline that China set for the rectification in the industry. (STCN)

Alibaba Health kicks off a sharing-pharmacists service that allows users to consult third-party pharmacists online. (techweb)

World:

Image credit to 123rf.com.cn.

Japan punished seven cryptocurrency exchanges, ordering two of them to suspend business, in an effort to shore up consumer protection after a $530 million theft of digital money from Tokyo-based Coincheck Inc earlier this year. (Reuters)

Coinbase, the cryptocurrency trading platform, hired an executive from the New York Stock Exchange, according to a blog post out Thursday. (Business Insider)

Amazon.com Inc. is shifting its Prime Pantry service, which focuses on non-perishable household goods like breakfast cereal, laundry detergent and shampoo, to a $5 per month membership model. (Bloomberg)

In a blog post today, Google is announcing that it’s formally embarking on a project to convince the group in charge of web standards to adopt technology inspired by its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) framework. In theory, it would mean that virtually any webpage could gain the same benefits as AMP: near-instantaneous loading, distribution on multiple platforms, and (critically) more prominent placement on Google properties. (The Verge)