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Line Corp Hits $9.85 Billion IPO - Mulls Over US or Japan Listing

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By Karen Wong | July 18, 2014 2:00 PM EST

Line App - a leading messaging app filed for an Initial Public Offering two weeks ago in Tokyo Stock Exchange and valued at $9.85 billion.

REUTERS
File photo illustration of the icon of the "Line" app an Apple iPhone in Tokyo

South Korea's Naver Corp. Line, owner of Line- a top messaging app in app stores- hired two financial service corporations. Morgan Stanley, an American multinational corporation and Namuro Holding Inc. managed the sale of Line Corp stocks in Tokyo.

Line was the highest-grossing non-game app hitting a total annual sale of $510 million recorded last 2013 and in just three months, Line Corp had revenue of over $140 million from January to March, according to analytics firm App Annie, reported Reuters.

Line is a free messaging application for smartphone devices that offers free unlimited voice and video calls. Line also offers free download of games and free use of stickers and emoticons for expressive chats. It hit over 480 million downloads and became popular all over Asia and America.

The rise of free messaging apps like Line, KakaoTalk, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber is trying to dominate both social network and entertainment with their unique features. WhastApp has been leading on stores but it only focuses messaging and doesn't offer entertainment. Other messaging apps have intense competition on both social networking and entertainment, WSJ reports.

Parent company Naver is likely to favour the sale of preferred shares to prevent third party control over Line. Line would also prefer to sell ordinary shares to increase the proportion of Japanese retail investors said another person familiar with the IPO plans. Line and Naver declined to comment, Business Today reports.

While on the latest news, according to Reuters, Line Corp is more likely to choose New York for its global expansion, for Tokyo may struggle to get a listing that could value Japan's social messaging service. But banking sources say the listings will either be a US-Japan dual listing or US only listing.

Japan's benchmark share index has a 57% rise last year and has triggered an increase for IPO. Skylark Co. - a restaurant chain operator, and Gumi Inc - game developer, both whom are also planning to launch IPO in Tokyo this year.

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(Photo: REUTERS / YURIKO NAKAO)
File photo illustration of the icon of the "Line" app an Apple iPhone in Tokyo
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