LINE set for first big-name messaging app IPO — report - Mobile World Live

LINE set for first big-name messaging app IPO — report

15 JUL 2014

The Japan-based company behind messaging app LINE reportedly applied to be listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange, in a move that could see it valued at nearly $10 billion.

A source told The Wall Street Journal that LINE Corp is also likely to submit an application to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange. As previously reported, the business, which is a division of South Korea’s Naver, is believed to be going public in the autumn.

The deal is expected to be worth more than JPY1 trillion ($9.84 billion) and would be one of the largest new stock offerings in Japan in 2014.

If LINE Corp does end up being listed, it will be the first major player in the OTT messaging sector to undertake an IPO.

Kakao, which makes KakaoTalk, is planning a stock market listing in October once its merger with South Korean internet portal Daum closes.

Big-money acquisitions have also been a recent feature of the sector: WhatsApp is in the process of being acquired by Facebook for $19 billion, while smaller rival Viber struck a $900 million deal with Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten in February.

LINE recently claimed that its messaging app reached 470 million registered users, putting it on par with the likes of WhatsApp (500 million monthly active users) and WeChat (396 million). The company also offers games and a camera app, which at last count had 80 million users.

It recently extended the LINE Call voice offering, enabling low cost calls to mobile phones and landlines both domestically and internationally in Japan, the US, Mexico, Spain, Thailand and the Philippines.

LINE is the most popular messaging app in Japan, but efforts to localise its services and content for other markets has contributed to significant user bases in markets including Thailand and Taiwan, as well as parts of Europe and Latin America. It wants to expand its reach to markets like the US and China.

LINE Corp CEO, Akira Morikawa, said in April the company is aiming to reach one billion users during 2015, more than doubling its current user base. Morikawa previously set a target of reaching at least 500 million registered users by the end of 2014.

For the first quarter of 2014, LINE Corp reported that revenue generated from the messaging app business was JPY14.6 billion ($143.7 million), up 223 per cent year-on-year and 19 per cent compared to the prior quarter.

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Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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