SoftBank to invest US$60 million in Malaysia's Axiata AI unit

SoftBank will own 23 per cent of ADA via new shares.
SoftBank will own 23 per cent of ADA via new shares.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysian telecommunications firm Axiata Group on Tuesday (May 11) said Japanese peer SoftBank Corp will invest US$60 million (S$80 million) in its digital analytics and artificial intelligence arm ADA.

SoftBank will own 23 per cent of ADA via new shares, with its investment valuing the unit at US$260 million, Axiata said in a statement.

ADA will use the proceeds to expand in South and South-east Asia, while SoftBank will establish the unit as its core digital and data marketing partner in Asia, Axiata said.

"(SoftBank) aims to leverage its network of portfolio companies in proposing and providing digital marketing solutions that incorporate ADA's proprietary technologies and consumer AI models," Axiata 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," said SoftBank representative director and chairman Ken Miyauchi.

ADA chief executive Srinivas Gattamneni said in a virtual media briefing that SoftBank's funds will go into developing and investing in Big Data platforms, AI and automation technology for digital marketing and advertising.

The unit also aims to become a US$2 billion business over the next five years, he said.

SoftBank follows compatriot Sumitomo Corp, which invested US$20 million in ADA in 2018 to support the unit's expansion.

Sumitomo's ADA stake will be about 13.5 per cent in size after SoftBank's investment, while Axiata Digital Services, which houses Axiata Group's digital businesses, will own around 63.5 per cent.

Another Japanese conglomerate, Mitsui & Co, has been a minority strategic shareholder of Axiata Digital Services since 2019.