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Toshiba breaks its silence on sales rumors, to quash them

PLUS: FTX may be sold in Japan and Singapore; Binance busted in Australia; India won’t limit gaming time

Asia In Brief Japanese tech conglomerate Toshiba has broken its silence on rumors of its impending sale, issuing an open letter [PDF] in which management told shareholders nothing has been decided.

The biz has been considering offers to take it private after investor groups became fed up with ongoing scandals that damaged its performance and brand. In July 2022 it issued a shortlist of potential buyers that included Bain, Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), Brookfield Asset Management and CVC Capital Partners.

Reuters recently reported JIP as the frontrunner with a deal valued at $16 billion.

Nikkei reported that JIP had teed up around $8.8 billion in loans to do the deed.

Toshiba's board, which has for months promised and delivered silence on the matter, responded by saying the company "is not in a position to confirm veracity" of the reports mentioned above.

The letter explained the management team had been engaging with all potential partners and providing them with financial, legal, tax and regulatory disclosures, while the special committee supervising the process met almost weekly.

"Although no assurance can be given regarding the consummation of an agreement with any of the Potential Partners, we are planning to receive binding and bona-fide proposal(s) and shall be making strong efforts to arrive at a conclusion as early as possible after necessary negotiations," wrote the representatives of the scandal-plagued Japanese giant.

The letter does not mention a timeline for resolution, stating only "We promise to you that, whether or not an agreement is reached, upon reaching a final conclusion of the board, the details will be announced to the public without delay."

FTX says Japanese and Singaporean ops could be sold as going concerns

The administrators of collapsed Crypto exchange FTX have signaled they want to put its Japanese and Singaporean operations up for sale, because they could be liquid and viable businesses.

A petition filed last week to US Bankruptcy Court in the District of Delaware revealed that early work had begun to understand FTX's sprawling operations, in the hope that might lead to funds being returned to retail investors and customers. Customers whose money – more than $8 billion of it – disappeared into the labyrinth of FTX's secret and deeply unethical internal loans.

"The Debtors believe a number of these entities have solvent balance sheets, independent management and valuable franchises," the petition states, before naming FTX Japan and FTX Singapore among the assets that might be worth something if a buyer can be found.

FTX's Singapore operations are yet to secure a license, but have been granted an exception to do business without one. FTX Japan on Saturday detailed its ongoing efforts to restore its platform and promised that by year's end customers would be offered "a detailed timeline and roadmap regarding when and how customers will be able to resume using the withdrawal and delivery service."

That advice may well set March 2023 as the time when funds might flow, as the company has been suspended from operations by Japanese authorities until the 9th of that month.

– Simon Sharwood

Australia fines crypto exchange Binance … for spam!

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has fined crypto outfit Binance AU$2,000,220 ($1.35 million) for sending over 5.7 million commercial emails "that either made it difficult for consumers to opt-out by requiring them to log into an account or didn't contain a way to unsubscribe."

Twenty-five emails were sent without the consent of the recipients.

ACMA Chair Nerida O'Loughlin said the Authority "contacted Binance Australia on several occasions leading up to the investigation to warn it that it may have had compliance problems and it failed to take adequate action."

A crypto company without basic controls and scoffing at a regulator? Where have we heard that before? Oh … seemingly all of them at one moment or another.

Binance's Australian arm has signed up for a three-year enforceable undertaking that means it must commit to an independent review of its e-marketing practices and implementation of improvements. The company must also train its staff and report to the ACMA under the arrangements.

– Simon Sharwood

Alibaba Cloud to offer blockchain nodes

Alibaba Cloud last week announced it will launch blockchain nodes as-a-service in the first quarter of 2023.

The platform will offer auto-failover to provide resilience. Alibaba Cloud has also expanded its line of infrastructure technology and intelligence tools to the Avalanche public blockchain (AVAX).

Doing so means that users can launch validator nodes through the node service and access computing, storage, and distribution resources through Alibaba Cloud's suite of products in Asia.

China's government is firmly opposed to cryptocurrency, but promotes the use of blockchain. Alibaba's move and its large footprint outside China therefore suggests blockchains across borders, with nodes hosted in consistent cloudy environments, are in prospect.

– Simon Sharwood

AWS mainframe modernization comes to Asia

Amazon Web Services last week announced that its mainframe modernization service, which launched in June 2022 and offers tools to bring apps from the mainframe to the AWS cloud, is available in three of its Asian regions.

The Asia Pacific (Mumbai), Asia Pacific (Singapore), and Asia Pacific (Tokyo) regions all host the service, and presumably also have consulting expertise on tap to help customers put it to work. Infosys is one of AWS's global partners that already offers services for the offering. AWS typically also tries to grow a community of local partners who can provide services for its offerings.

India won't limit gaming time for kids

India's minister of state for electronics and information technology has said the nation has no plan to limit the amount of time youth are allowed to spend playing video games, as has been imposed in China.

In a written answer to a parliamentary question, minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar acknowledged that the potential for Indians being exposed to content depicting violence had grown, and was aware of risks, including addiction and subsequent financial loss of individuals. He added that current regulations put the responsibility to avoid harm to children on intermediaries – India's term for online platforms and carriers.

China introduced regulations last August that restrict children under 18 to just three hours of online gaming each week, one hour max on any one day.

New Sony sensor plant reportedly coming to Japan's Kumamoto prefecture

Sony is reportedly considering building a smartphone image sensor plant near a Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) facility in Japan in Kumamoto.

The plant would be up and running by 2024 at the earliest.

Japanese space agency JAXA licenses its logo

The Register hardly goes a day without seeing someone wearing clothing adorned with a NASA logo. Now Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has licensed its logo and detailed plans to have it slapped on all manner of kit.

A Friday announcement explains that "JAXA LABEL COLLAB" will be licensed for use on "products resulting mainly from joint research." Another brand, "JAXA LABEL TECH" will cover "products developed utilizing JAXA's patented techniques and technologies."

"JAXA LABEL DESIGN" is reserved "for merchandise developed utilizing design and materials on intellectual property held by JAXA."

"In the near future, you may be able to find a variety of items bearing the JAXA LABEL logo in stores near your home," the announcement states.

– Simon Sharwood

In other news …

Our regional coverage from last week included news that China has binned its COVID tracking app as it seeks to transition away from a zero-COVID strategy.

Another new ban from Beijing prevents the export of chips that use the domestically designed Loongson architecture, according to Russian state-sponsored media.

Beijing has also launched campaigns to crack down on some of the most annoying things about smartphone apps – including copycat apps, pop-ups, bloatware and other annoyances.

Six images of the Sun were released by China's National Space Science Center. The images were captured by the nation's Advanced Space-Based Solar Observatory (ASO-S), aka Kuafu-1.

Citrix patched a critical ADC flaw the NSA says is already under attack from China.

The US added 36 Chinese companies, including YMTC, to its entity list and dropped 25 from its Unverified list. Nine more went on the Unverified list for ties to Russia.

And China's Cyberspace Administration issued guidelines on deepfakes that prohibit their creation without a subject's permission or against national interest.

Vietnam's internet turned 25 at around the same time the country implemented a crackdown on online advertising that sees platforms like YouTube and Facebook responsible for the content that drives their ad revenue.

Japanese start-up ispace's HAKUTO-R Mission 1 launched into space aboard a Falcon 9. ®

The Asia In Brief roundup will resume in January 2023.

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