has applied for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, according to a rumor. The operator of the messaging service of the same name, owned by Naver of South Korea, is said to have made the request to the exchange two weeks ago, with the company claimed to be valued at over 1 trillion yen ($9.8 billion) by report sources.
Neither company commented to Reuters
about the possible IPO, though a person with knowledge of the IPO claims it is being managed by Nomura Holdings and Morgan Stanley in Tokyo. A listing on the New York Stock Exchange is also being considered.
If the rumor is true, the Line IPO directly contrasts with other messaging services being acquired by larger companies over the last year. In February, Facebook announced it was acquiring WhatsApp
for a total of $19 billion in cash, shares, and restricted stock units, a purchase that is continuing to receive regulatory attention
. A few days before, Japanese retailer Rakuten
acquired the Cyprus-based VoIP and messaging service Viber for $900 million.
Line currently earns revenue from users downloading stickers, with its over-450 million users downloading over 480 million sticker packs globally. Full-year sales for last year reached 51.8 billion yen ($509.4 million), while revenue for the first quarter of this year was reported at 14.6 billion yen ($143.6 million), three times that of the same period last year. The company recently expanded into providing fixed-rate VoIP
calls to international numbers.