New World’s K11 Invests $10M in AI Startup

K11 ObEN Adrian Cheng

K11’s Adrian Cheng (centre) poses with the team from ObEN

Tales of China retail lead today’s news as one of Hong Kong’s biggest developers invests $10 million into an artificial intelligence startup, while a Beigjing mall converts a whole floor into co-working space. A key cog in China’s Belt-and-Road initiative also makes headlines over allegedly firing 1,000 workers, and there’s much more if you just keep reading.

New World’s K11 Invests $10M in AI Startup

ObEN, an artificial intelligence company that creates virtual identities for consumers and celebrities, has raised $10 million from K11, a museum-retail concept founded by entrepreneur Adrian Cheng, whose family controls the Hong Kong conglomerate New World Development and jewellery group Chow Tai Fook.

The funding from K11 will be used to drive the growth of ObEN’s AI technology, which can simulate a person’s voice, face and personality, and can do things on their behalf. The start-up, founded in 2014 and based in Pasadena, California, has raised more than $23.7 million to date. Read more>>

COFCO Converts Floor of Beijing Mall for Co-Working

For those familiar with Beijing’s recent history, the Cofco Plaza on Jianguomennei Avenue occupies an important place on the city’s cultural map.

Home to one of the earliest Starbucks in China – which is still in operation – it was a favourite haunt of one of China’s internet pioneers, Charles Zhang, the founder and chairman of Sohu Inc, giving it a prominent place in the rise of China’s internet industry. Read more>>

CCCC Denies Sacking 1000 Workers on Kenya Railway

China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has refuted claims that it has fired 1,000 staff at the Maai Mahiu sub-section of the SGR.

The company which was contracted for the Nairobi–Naivasha SGR Phase 2A project has had its work stalled for the past one week at subsection office No 4 at Maai Mahiu after workers went on on strike to protest remuneration and poor working conditions. Read more>>

Shama Serviced Apartments Set Up for Mainland Expansion

Thailand-based Onyx Hospitality Group and Sincere Holdings Group today announced the formation of a strategic partnership, aiming to boost the serviced apartments market across key Chinese cities.

Under this strategic partnership, Sincere Holdings Group will receive exclusivity rights from Onyx Hospitality Group to develop and open Shama serviced apartments, including those bearing the Shama Luxe and Shama Hub sub-brand names, in 12 key cities across China. Read more>>

Thailand’s Central Group Joins With for Ecommerce Push

The company with the biggest grip on Thailand’s brick-and-mortar retail market is expecting a partnership with China’s Inc (京東商城) to help it do the same in online sales.

Central Group, which controls Thailand’s biggest operator of shopping malls and department stores, expects online sales to account for as much as 15 percent of its revenue in five years, from 2 percent now. Read more>>

SG’s Yangkee Logistics Completes NZ Acquisition

Singapore-based Yang Kee Logistics has completed the S$52.1-million ($39 million) acquisition of New Zealand Exchange listed global supply chain service provider Fliway Group Ltd. This allows the Singapore firm to extend third-party-logistics services across New Zealand and Oceania region. Read more>>

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