Softbank backs Axiata AI unit with $60 million investment

11 May 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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The digital analytics and AI arm of Malaysia's Axiata Group is to receive a $60 million investment from Softbank.

The funds will be channelled into the telco's digital analytics and artificial intelligence arm, ADA.

Following the investment, Softbank will hold a 23% stake in ADA, establishing it as its "core digital and data marketing partner in Asia".

The investment valed the unit at $260 million, Axiata said in a statement.

Group president and CEO, Dato’ Izzaddin Idris (pictured), said: “We are delighted to welcome SoftBank as a business partner and co-shareholder to ADA. Now serving over 1,300 clients in the region, ADA’s revenue tripled since its launch three years ago, recording positive EBITDA in the last two years. 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.”

Idris continued: “More brands than ever today in Asia are turning to data analytics and AI to differentiate their products and services in the highly competitive digital marketing industry. With this added business and capital boost, we are better placed to develop AI models for precision targeting, invest in content analytics, and establish data platforms to deliver insights and help businesses pivot for growth.”

ADA is the largest independent digital, analytics, and marketing company in nine countries across South and Southeast and the investment from SoftBank, is expected to establish ADA as its core digital and data marketing partner in Asia.

The Japanese firm said it 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. This alliance will allow SoftBank 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.

SoftBank Corp. representative director and chairman, Ken Miyauchi commented: “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. 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 as a leading data and AI company. We look forward to collaborating closely with the ADA team so we can help companies in the Asia-Pacific region accelerate the digital transformation of their businesses.”