Line, Ja­pan’s mo­bile app, re­viv­ing IPO plans: re­port

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Line, the popular mes­sag­ing app launched in the af­ter­math of Ja­pan’s earth­quake and tsunami, is set for an ini­tial public of­fer­ing as early as this year, a re­port said Thurs­day, af­ter shelv­ing plans for a list­ing in 2014.

The lead­ing Nikkei busi­ness daily re­ported that the com­pany has ap­plied to trade its shares in Tokyo — and may launch a sep­a­rate New York list­ing — in a sale that could value it at more than US$8.0 bil­lion.

A Line spokes­woman said the com­pany would not com­ment on the Nikkei re­port, which did not cite sources.

Line ap­plied in mid-2014 for a share sale in Ja­pan, and said it was eye­ing a U.S. list­ing as well. But it pulled back in Septem­ber, say­ing it needed to fo­cus on growth first — some re­ports said the sale was can­celled due to dis­agree­ments with its par­ent over de­tails of the list­ing.

The com­pany, which claims more than 400 mil­lion reg­is­tered mem­bers in Ja­pan and other parts of Asia, lets users make free calls, send in­stant mes­sages and post pho­tos or short videos. It com­bines at­tributes from Face­book, Skype and What­sApp.

It re­ported sales of 86.3 bil­lion yen (US$722 mil­lion) in its lat­est fis­cal year.

Best known for let­ting users send each other cute car­toon “stick­ers,” Line is hugely popular in Ja­pan, par­tic­u­larly among teenagers.

About 88 per­cent of Ja­panese smart­phone own­ers use mes­sag­ing apps such as Line, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and In­for­ma­tion net­work As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­pan.

Its mes­sag­ing ser­vice was launched in 2011 by the Ja­panese unit of South Korean In­ter­net ser­vice provider Naver Corp. af­ter the quake-tsunami tragedy dam­aged tele­coms in­fra­struc­ture na­tion­wide, forc­ing mil­lions of peo­ple in Ja­pan to re­sort to on­line re­sources to com­mu­ni­cate.

Line is based in Ja­pan, but owned by Naver.

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