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Malaysia's Axiata says AI unit gets $60 million SoftBank Corp investment

By Reuters

<p><body> <p>By Liz Lee</p> <p><span class="caps">KUALA</span> <span class="caps">LUMPUR</span> (Reuters) -Malaysian telecommunications firm Axiata Group Bhd on Tuesday said Japanese peer SoftBank Corp will invest $60 million in its digital analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) arm <span class="caps">ADA</span>.</p> <p>SoftBank will own 23% of <span class="caps">ADA</span> via new shares, with its investment valuing the unit at $260 million, Axiata said in a statement.</p> <p><span class="caps">ADA</span> will use the proceeds to expand in South and Southeast Asia, while SoftBank will establish the unit as its core digital and data marketing partner in Asia, Axiata said.</p> <p>“(SoftBank) aims to leverage its network of portfolio companies in proposing and providing digital marketing solutions that incorporate <span class="caps">ADA</span>’s proprietary technologies and consumer AI models,” Axiata said.</p> <p>“This alliance with <span class="caps">ADA</span> heralds a new theme in this growth strategy as it will enable us to deploy our digital marketing business outside Japan,” said SoftBank Representative Director and Chairman Ken Miyauchi.</p> <p><span class="caps">ADA</span> Chief Executive Srinivas Gattamneni said in a virtual media briefing that SoftBank’s funds will go into developing and investing in big data platforms, artificial intelligence and automation technology for digital marketing and advertising.</p> <p>The unit also aims to become a $2 billion business over the next five years, he said.</p> <p>SoftBank follows compatriot Sumitomo Corp which invested $20 million in <span class="caps">ADA</span> in 2018 to support the unit’s expansion.</p> <p>Sumitomo’s <span class="caps">ADA</span> stake will be 13.46% in size after SoftBank’s investment, while Axiata Digital Services, which houses Axiata Group’s digital businesses, will own 63.47%.</p> <p>Another Japanese conglomerate, Mitsui & Co Ltd, has been a minority strategic shareholder of Axiata Digital Services since 2019.</p> <p> (Reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; Additional reporting by Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)</p> </body></p>