Messaging app registers for listing in Tokyo.
Popular messaging app Line is set for a major windfall following reports of a multi-billion dollar IPO listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The company’s owner, South Korean Naver Corp., confirmed the listing in a regulatory filing, but said the plans were still at a preliminary stage.
It did say, however, that it was considering a dual listing in both Japan and the United States, and could even list just in the latter.
"It has not been decided whether LINE will eventually go public, which exchange it will be listed on and when it will be listed," Naver said in its filing.
However, a source familiar with the deal said Nayer’s application had valued Line at around 1 billion yen ($10bn/£5.7bn) mark, with Line hiring Nomura Holdings Inc and Morgan Stanley to manage the IPO.
The deal demonstrates how valuable the messaging industry has become in recent years, following Facebook’s £19bn purchase of WhatsApp in February (although this is still pending approval for European Union antitrust officials) and Rakuten’s $900m purchase of Viber.
Launched in June 2011, Line was originally developed in the wake of the devastating Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in order to facilitate quick and reliable communications.
It has rapidly grown in popularity since, reporting first-quarter revenues of 14.6 billion yen ($144 m/£83.5m), more than three times the amount from a year ago, much of which comes from in-app games.
The company recently announced that its 63-strong family of apps, which includes games and entertainment alongside the core messaging service, had recently passed the one billion download mark.
Line’s messaging app has seen 480m downloads in its lifetime, still behind the 500m plus estimated to be using WhatsApp.
Analysis firm Juniper research recently reported that messaging apps such as Line will generate 2% of the mobile messaging market’s revenue by 2018, though they account for 75% of total traffic. Such apps would generate $3bn in revenue and process about 63 trillion messages over the next five years, the report added.