23 April 2012
Kojima Haruna, Abe Maria, Suzuki Shihori, Kawaei Rina and Natori Wakana went to Shanghai on April 21st, 2012 for an event, during which fans sang Happy Birthday to celebrate Kojima's 24th birthday, which was on April 19th, 2012.
More importantly, it was announced at this event that there will be a new sister group based in Shanghai, named "SNH48". There will be management offices in bot Shanghai and Hong Kong. Commercials and websites will start soon and auditions will be held in August 2012. 16 members will debut right before December 2012, when AKB48 celebrates its 7th anniversary.
Kojima said, "We are really happy to have sisters in Shanghai. It would be great to travel more between Japan and China."
This is the 3rd overseas group for the AKB franchise, after JKT48 and TPE48. However, it is quite possible that SNH48 will debut sooner than TPE48 if the above schedule is met. There was a bit of noise earlier this month regarding TPE48 auditions, but it was postponed and we don't have any news at the moment regarding TPE48 development.