Japan's Line Messaging Service Is Preparing for Dual Listing in Tokyo and New York

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Line Corp., operator of Japan’s most popular mobile-messaging service, is preparing for a dual listing in Tokyo and New York before Japan Post Holdings Co.’s initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Tokyo-based company aims to sell shares around September to avoid competing for investors with state-owned Japan Post, the people said, asking not to be named as the information is private. The government has said it will raise as much as 2 trillion yen ($16.5 billion) from a Japan Post listing later in the year. Line has resumed work with Morgan Stanley and Nomura Holdings Inc. on plans for its offering, which could value it at more than 1 trillion yen, the people said.

Companies that do business with Line climbed in Tokyo on Thursday. Adways Inc., the agent for Line’s “Free Coin” application, rose 3.4 percent to close at the highest in six weeks. Digital-marketing firm Netyear Group Corp. closed 3.5 percent higher after surging as much as 9.2 percent. Media Kobo Inc., which offers fortune-telling services to Line users, jumped 8.4 percent.

Line, controlled by South Korean search portal Naver Corp., is customizing its software as it seeks to challenge Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp service outside Asia. The company, which makes money by asking smartphone users to pay for teddy bear icons and games, has 205 million monthly active users, it said in a statement last month.

Naver spokesman Nam Ji Woong said Line is considering an IPO as one of several options, though details such as the timing, listing venue and valuation haven’t been decided. Kota Momoki, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Line, said the company has yet to decide on whether to go public. Representatives for Nomura and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

Doubling Sales

Line’s sales for the quarter through March surged 70 percent from a year earlier to 28.1 billion yen, after more than doubling in 2014. More than half its active users are located in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, according to last month’s statement.

Naver put Line’s listing plan on hold in September, saying it won’t sell shares in 2014 because it’s “not the best timing.” The South Korean firm said in March it’s still considering a share sale for the messaging business in the U.S. or Japan.

Line filed confidentially for an IPO in the U.S. last year as part of plans for a dual listing in New York and Tokyo, people with knowledge of the matter said last July. The company also submitted a listing application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, according to a July statement.