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The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

• Streaming21, a provider of broadcast-quality streaming solutions, and Cool.revo, an IPTV system integrator in Japan, announced that they have entered into a new system integration partnership to develop and market end-to-end IPTV and video-on-demand [VoD] solutions for telcos, broadband service providers, content service providers and hotel operators in Japan. The two companies have worked together to provide end-to-end IPTV solutions, including streaming server, set-top box [STB], DRM, middleware and networking. Streaming21 provides interactive IPTV and digital home solutions over fixed-mobile-convergence [FMC] and open networks.
• Square Enix (OTCPK:SQNXF), publisher of interactive entertainment products, announced the shipment of the expansion pack for Final Fantasy XI - Wings of the Goddess to retailers across North America. The company said the expansion is available for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Windows PC and Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Square Enix, with headquarters in Tokyo, develops, publishes and distributes entertainment content including interactive entertainment software and publications in Asia, North America and Europe.

Internet


• Skype Technologies announced that it has entered into a partnership with Excite Japan Co., an Internet portal operator, to offer co-branding software for personal computer-based phone calls. Under the agreement, the services will allow registered users worldwide to make free phone calls via their PCs by downloading software free of charge. The deal will also see users able to make calls to fixed-line and cellular phones at flat-rate charges. Skype said it has selected Excite Japan as the partner after its contract with Livedoor Co. has been terminated. With Excite Japan having 24 million users, Skype said it aims to increase users in the country to 10 million from the more than 5 million at present.

Mobile/Wireless


• Following the decision of the settlement panel of the communications ministry, NTT DoCoMo Inc (NYSE:DCM) has been asked to let Japan Communications Inc set mobile phone rates after allowing it the use of the cellphone network. The expected ruling is seen as encouraging more firms to enter the mobile phone business, stimulating competition and expanding the variety of services available. Japan Communications is the nation's first mobile virtual network operator [MVNO] offering wireless data communications services using Willcom Inc's personal handy-phone system, or PHS, network. Earlier, the company said it is looking to work with NTT DoCoMo's network in order to expand its business.
• Willcom, one of the largest Little Smart service operators in Japan, announced that it will work with China Netcom (CN-OLD), China's communications operator, on promoting the Personal Handset System [PHS] within China. Willcom said that it has already signed the agreement that will enable the two companies to carry out cooperation in the research and technology of services. The agreement includes the introduction of the data communications service in the Chinese market. Under the alliance, Willcom will provide technology support to China Netcom's Little Smart online data communications service and may also cooperate with China Netcom on the new generation of PHS. Originally from Japan, PHS is widely used in China and now has up to 100 million users in the country.

Telecommunications


• According to media sources, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has advised Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (NYSE:NTT) to invite transparent bids if it is to go through with its plan to dispose of two thirds of its 35.2 percent stake in Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd. In a separate report, NTT said it was aiming to sell a 25.3 percent stake in SLT to Malaysia's Usha Tegas Group. This deal was stopped after a public interest case was filed, which alleged that NTT had arbitrarily handpicked the Malaysian buyer without issuing an invite for open bids.

Ventures/Investments


• Sanyo Electric (OTC:SANYY) revealed its plans to undertake a major investment in its battery business. The decision is part of the company’s new business plan and will be made over the three years from April 2008. Sanyo said it will spend 100 billion yen to boost production. The company said it will make the investment over the three years from April 2008 as part of a new business plan. Sanyo remains the world’s top maker of lithium-ion batteries used in notebook computers and mobile phones.
• Aeon Co, a major supermarket chain, announced its plans to introduce electronic gift certificates at all of its group's outlets in Japan. The company said it plans to make electronic gift cards available at about 23,000 outlets across Japan, with the company targeting some 2.5 million cards to be issued in the first year. With this offering, Aeon becomes the first company in Japan to offer the said type cards that can be used across Japan to buy different kinds of goods. The magnetic cards will be available in denominations of 1,000 yen (US$9.2) and be worth up to 100,000 yen (US$92.3) each.The cards will come in 14 colors and be sold with special cases so that they can be used on ceremonial occasions, which is close to the Japanese tradition of gift-giving.

Information Technology


• Aiphone Co. said it has developed a system that it aims to sell to provide condominium residents with emergency earthquake information through intercoms. The system installs a machine in a building which receives information from meteorological authorities on a possible quake via the Internet. The device then immediately calculates when and where it is likely to hit the site, as well as its expected intensity. The machine is designed to inform residents in the building of calculated data through intercoms. It can also automatically bring elevators to the nearest floor so that people will not be trapped during times of earthquake.

Disclaimer: IRG is not responsible for the accuracy of the news compiled within this article, which is based on publicly available information.