Japanese-owned firm Hallo Hallo Entertainment Inc. signed the partnership agreement Friday with one of the Philippines' major television networks, ABS-CBN Corp., to bring to the Southeast Asian country its own version of the popular Japanese all-girl idol group AKB48.

The Philippine-based sister group will be known as MNL48, named after the capital city Manila.

"This is basically a J-Pop concept. It's still kind of new here but the melody, the dancing, the performance are Asian standard actually," Paulo Kurosawa, president of Hallo Hallo Entertainment, said on the sidelines of the contract signing in Manila.

AKB48, named after the Akihabara electronics and pop subculture district in Tokyo, has grown into one of the East Asian country's most popular idol groups and is boosting its presence overseas.

The partnership will make the Philippines the fifth country outside Japan to have its own sister group after China, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Laurenti Dyogi, TV productions head of ABS-CBN, said the deal would mark the first time for the television company to bring a popular idol group from Japan to Manila.

"I think it will be a big hit because we have many talented teenagers and Filipinos who are good not just in dancing and singing," Dyogi said, hinting that a television program will be lined up for the talent search.