After a period of rampant speculations it has been reported that Line Corp.,which now boasts almost half a billion users, has filed confidentially for an initial offering in the U.S. It is expected that the company will seek a dual-listing in New York and Tokyo. This, according to a report our on Bloomberg.
While the details have not been released publicly by Line, it is believed that Morgan Stanley (MS) is managing the listing in the US, while Nomura will take charge of teh Tokyo listing. Companies with less than $1 billion in revenue can submit their filings privately under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which is aimed at encouraging smaller companies to go public.
Line is a free messaging service that makes money by charging for highly successful messaging icons and games. the service has more than 470 million users across 230 countries. While the service was developed in Japan it is controlled by South Korea’s Naver Corp., which also submitted an application for an IPO to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The offering could value the company at almost $10 billion USD.
Line's news comes at an incredibly interesting time for the messaging industry. Rakuten Inc., announced in February it was acquiring Viber Media Ltd. for about $900 million. Five days later Facebook Inc. (FB) said it agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion. And in recent weeks Korea's largest messaging platform, Kakao Talk, acquired Daum, a local portal site in a deal worth $4 billion USD.
Line, led by CEO Morikawa, is targeting 500 million to 600 million users by the end of the year. He said in April he plans to double the number to at least one billion globally in 2015.
The company, which has 666 employees, began its free messenger app in June 2011 after the earthquake in northeastern Japan knocked out telephone services, according to its website.
Revenue for Line’s core business more than tripled in the first quarter to 14.6 billion yen, according to a May 8 statement. The company has added features such as games, comics, free voice and video calling, photo and video sharing, and tie-in apps including a camera.