Messaging App Line Set for Listing in Tokyo, New York

Messaging App Line Set for Listing in Tokyo, New York: Reports

Messaging app Line will list its shares in Tokyo and New York, reports said Friday, in what could be one of the year’s biggest initial public offerings.

Japanese media, including the Nikkei business daily and Kyodo news agency, said the Tokyo-based firm was set to win approval from regulators Friday to go public as early as next month.

Japanese reports said Line, which is owned by South Korean Internet provider Naver, plans to raise about JPY 100 billion ($933 million or roughly Rs. 6,237 crores) in a sale that would value the company at around JPY 600 billion.

Bloomberg News cited unnamed sources as saying the sale could raise between $1 billion and $2 billion (roughly Rs. 13,370 crores), in what it said could be the world’s biggest tech IPO this year.

Neither Line nor the Tokyo Stock Exchange would confirm the reports, but a source close to the situation told AFP that a deal was likely to be announced later Friday.

“It’s true that a board meeting about Line’s IPO is happening (in Tokyo),” said the source, who requested anonymity.

“Naver wants to push through with the IPO so the chances of the board not approving the sale is quite low.”

Line has already confirmed it has submitted listing documents to Japanese and US market regulators.

The reported sale comes two years after Line initially announced plans to list its shares. The sale was later shelved.

The offering would be the biggest in Tokyo since Japan Post made its long-awaited trading debut in November with an IPO that topped $11.5 billion (roughly Rs. 76,873 crores).

The popular app lets users make free calls, send instant messages, and post photos or short videos, along with a host of other paid-services. It combines attributes from Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp.

The firm’s messaging service was launched in 2011 after the quake-tsunami tragedy damaged telecoms infrastructure nationwide, forcing staff to resort to online resources to communicate.

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

The app – which claims to have more than 200 million monthly active users – has a strong presence in Asian markets such as Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, as well as some Spanish-speaking areas, including Spain and Mexico.

But the company has been looking to expand in bigger markets, such as the United States.