SoftBank Corp’s Z Holdings completed an integration with messaging app company Line and outlined plans to invest JPY500 billion ($4.7 billion) in developing new applications based on AI for its platforms.

The merger of the two Japanese businesses was delayed by issues related to Covid-19 (coronavirus), having been in the works since 2019.

Its completion creates a business incorporating resources previously owned by Naver’s Line and Z Holdings, which comprised assets from Yahoo! Japan. The merged business is jointly owned by the two brands’ former parent companies and will operate under Z Holdings Group.

The company’s core business areas will be: communications and social media; e- and m-commerce; and web search and advertising.

In a strategy statement, Z Holdings Group said creating “new shopping experiences” would be among its focus areas, including the ability to buy gifts through its Yahoo! platform and send them to Line contacts.

It also plans to add a number of merchant-focused features related to mobile payment brands PayPay and Line Pay.

In an attempt to improve its wide range of online and mobile services, the company plans to pump JPY500 billion into researching, developing and integrating new AI applications. As part of this, it pledged to employ 5,000 additional engineers over a five year period.

The company noted it also planned to build on Line’s operations outside of its home market of Japan, in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia, to expand the business globally.