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Tsunami-driven app eyes $8.9bn listing

16 July 2014, 12:13

Tokyo - A smartphone messaging app set up in the aftermath of Japan's 2011 quake-tsunami disaster has applied to list on the Tokyo stock exchange, in an offering that could be worth more than $9.8bn, a report said on Tuesday.

Fast-growing messaging service Line, has submitted a formal application to Japan's main bourse, Dow Jones news wires said, citing an unnamed source, adding that it could list as early as the autumn.

The Tokyo-based firm is also considering a New York filing, the report said. However, the Tokyo exchange and Line declined to comment, with a company spokesperson saying, "nothing has been decided at the moment".

The app was set up in 2011 by the Japanese unit of South Korean internet service provider Naver Corp. after the March 2011 tragedy damaged telecoms infrastructure nationwide, forcing staff to resort to online resources to communicate.

The resource was released to the public in June 2011 and now has more than 400 million registered users, mainly in Japan and Asia, while is growing fast in other parts of the world.

It lets users make free calls, send instant messages and post photos or short videos, combining attributes from Facebook, Skype and messaging application WhatsApp.

Line is widely seen as a competitor to WhatsApp, which Facebook agreed to buy for $19bn, and WeChat, which is owned by Chinese giant Tencent.

Line has forged heavyweight partnerships with Spanish football giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, brands such as Coca-Cola and tennis star Rafael Nadal.

One of Line's main selling points is its "stickers"-funny, cartoon-like emoticons that users can post to friends.



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