In today’s top stories, ZTE pauses operations, China looks to introduce blockchain standards, and eBay plans to double-down on the Indian market with bumper proceeds from selling its Flipkart stake.
Walmart confirms US$16 billion investment in Flipkart (India). The US retailer will get a 77 percent share of the Indian ecommerce company, ending months of speculation about the move. This investment will value Flipkart at US$20.8 billion after the deal closes later this year, pending regulatory approval. Yesterday, Masayoshi Son, CEO of Flipkart shareholder SoftBank, accidentally announced the deal hours before the official confirmation. (TechCrunch)
Flipkart employee share buyback may spur luxury goods sales (India). Flipkart set aside US$500 million to repurchase shares from current and former employees after its US$16 billion Walmart deal. According to sources, the payouts could see an uptick in luxury sales as company executives buy luxury cars, high-end apartments, and other expensive goods. According to a source who spoke to The Economic Times, the deal has raised the total worth of the company’s employee stock ownership plans, which include unvested shares, to US$2 billion. (Livemint)
EBay plans India relaunch after selling its Flipkart shares (India). EBay India sold itself to Flipkart, taking a minority stake in the ecommerce company. After the Walmart purchase of Flipkart, eBay’s shares were sold to the US retailer with gross proceeds of US$1.1 billion. With that sale, eBay is returning to the Indian market. Details are scarce, apart from eBay confirming that it will end its partnership with Flipkart, which included licensing of the eBay.in platform and cross promotion of products between the two companies. In a statement, eBay said that, ““We plan to relaunch eBay India with a differentiated offer to focus initially on the cross-border trade opportunity.” No details were given as to when eBay will commence its re-entry. (Recode)
Mayweather invests on Pacquiao’s home turf, backs U-Hop for US expansion (The Philippines). The American pugilist’s firm, The Money Team, has invested an undisclosed amount in the Philippine ride-hailing startup. Mayweather’s sucker-punch comes after a string of investments that Pacquiao has made in regional tech ventures. U-Hop said it will use the funding to expand in Asia and North America, where it will compete with industry giants Uber and Lyft .(Tech in Asia)
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies
China to set national standards for blockchain technology (China). The government hopes to complete the process by end of 2019. Although cryptocurrencies and ICOs face restrictions in China, regional and national governments are slowly raising their support. According to Li Ming of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, planned standards include interoperability, safety, and reliability requirements. (TechNode)
Travel and hospitality
TravelSkope raises US$297,000 in seed round (Taiwan). The online travel agency (OTA) solutions provider secured the funding from Venture Republic, Zino Ventures, KDV Holdings, and several angel investors from the Asia-Pacific region. TravelSkope plans on using the money to establish a Singapore office and expand into the Southeast Asian market. The startup offers clients all-in-one OTA solutions for car rentals, hotel bookings, airline ticketing, and other related services. (TravelSkope)
Weibo net income up 111 percent (China). This, according to the Chinese microblogging platform’s Q1 2018 report. Net revenue for the company also went up 76 percent compared to the same time last year, from US$199.2 million to US$349.9 million. But the report also showed profit growth slowing down compared to last year, when the net income for Q1 2017 was up 561 percent. (TechNode)
Toppr raises US$2.3 million (India). The Mumbai-based startup which helps students prepare for exams received the amount from venture debt firm Alteria Capital. Toppr’s learning materials are delivered via an app which include practice tests, videos, questions, and is meant to support offline tutoring. . (Livemint)
Property and real estate
BitOfProperty closes seed round (Singapore). The Singapore startup raised the undisclosed amount from Japanese real estate firm Lifull. BitOfProperty offers a crowdfunding platform that allows small investments into commercial and residential properties via blockchain technology. A previous pre-seed round was led by Singapore-based startup incubator Spaze Ventures. (BitOfProperty)
ZTE stops main business operations because of US ban (China). The tech company depends on US firms such as Qualcomm and Intel to supply up to a third of the components it needs to make smartphones. ZTE is talking to the US government to reverse the ban, after it was discovered that ZTE violated US export restrictions by shipping materials to Iran. Analysts say that it would be hard for the ZTE to stay competitive even if it manages to find non-US suppliers. According to sources, the company may consider selling its smartphone business to its rivals, namely Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi. (Reuters)
See: Previous Asia tech news roundups
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