Japan Tech

SoftBank mulls tie-up with messaging app Line, acquisition eyed

14, Nov. 2019

TOKYO, Kyodo - SoftBank Corp. is considering a broad tie-up with messaging app provider Line Corp., with their talks including a possible acquisition, a source close to the matter said Wednesday.

SoftBank is looking to form a tie-up with Line through its group company Z Holdings Corp. and possibly to merge it with Line, which has a market capitalization of about 1.1 trillion yen ($10 billion), by buying Line shares from South Korean internet giant Naver Corp., the source said.

SoftBank is the mobile phone service subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp., while Z Holdings is the parent of portal site operator Yahoo Japan Corp.

The SoftBank group aims to strengthen its online advertising business by gaining customer data from the more than 80 million users of Line's messaging app and obtain its online marketing skills and technology. SoftBank is hoping to strike a deal by the end of the month.

Line posted a group net loss of 33.9 billion yen in the nine months ended September on hefty technological development costs.

SoftBank already holds a majority stake in Line's mobile business.

Concern has grown over the outlook for SoftBank Group's investment business since it reported a group operating loss of 704.37 billion yen for the three months ended September, hit by the reduced value of its investment in the struggling U.S. operator of shared workspace provider WeWork.

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