SoftBank Corp buys 23% in Malaysian telco Axiata’s AI unit for $60m

Photo: Bloomberg

Malaysian telecommunications firm Axiata Group Bhd announced on Tuesday that Japan’s SoftBank Corp will invest $60 million in its digital analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) unit ADA for a 23% stake.

Following the investment, the valuation of ADA, which designs and executes integrated digital, analytics, and marketing solutions for its clients, stands at 1.07 billion ringgit ($260 million).

Axiata Digital Services, a subsidiary of Axiata Group, remains the majority shareholder in ADA with a 63.47% stake. Sumitomo Corporation will hold a 13.46% stake. Sumitomo Corp had invested $20 million in ADA in 2018.

SoftBank Corp, a Fortune 500 telecommunications company, will establish ADA as its core digital and data marketing partner in Asia. The move will help to expand and accelerate Axiata Group’s analytics, data, and AI digital marketing business in the region, according to a statement.

“Since our public listing in 2018, we have been executing our ‘beyond carrier’ growth strategy by expanding into new business areas outside our core telecom business,” SoftBank Corp. representative director and chairman Ken Miyauchi said. “This alliance with ADA heralds a new theme in this growth strategy as it will enable us to deploy our digital marketing business outside Japan by leveraging ADA’s presence in Asia.”

ADA – present in nine countries across South and Southeast Asia – expects to benefit from the unlocking of significant global synergistic opportunities.

CEO Srinivas Gattamneni said ADA aims to achieve $2 billion in business across Southeast Asia in the next five years. “With the additional funding, ADA will develop big data platforms, AI models, and focus on automation — invest in technology for automation of content creation for the advertising industry,” he said at a virtual press conference.

“Now serving over 1300 clients in the region, ADA’s revenue tripled since its launch three years ago, recording positive EBITDA ( Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation) in the last two years,” Axiata’s president & Group CEO Izzaddin Idris said in a statement, “Together with our existing Sumitomo partnership, we can expect this strategic alliance to further fuel ADA’s growth momentum within the region as it unlocks synergistic opportunities that will form one of the pillars to deliver on Axiata’s Digital Champion ambition.”

This alliance also allows SoftBank Corp. to expand its footprint in the region by bringing its customer data platform (CDP), ‘Treasure Data’; and the consumer base of its communication app, ‘LINE’ for the benefit of brands and marketers.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.