Line s gearing up for a battle with far larger rivals like Facebook and China s WeChat as it looks to expand its 218 million user base beyond its strongest markets of Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.
The Tokyo-based company, owned by South Korean search portal Naver Corp., plans to use the proceeds to spearhead an expansion across Asia and, eventually, the U.S. Line will have its market in Japan fairly fortified from the likes of WhatsApp or even Facebook Messenger, said Amir Anvarzadeh, manager of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc. Outside of its core markets, it s going to be a massive challenge.
That approach earned the Japanese company top spot in global smartphone revenue rankings last year, excluding games, according to market researcher App Annie.But user growth plateaued as it made limited headway beyond its home country.
Investors will want to hear about its broader expansion goals during the upcoming roadshow, even as they scrutinize its business performance.Sales grew 40 percent last year to 120.7 billion yen, with games, streaming music and comics accounting for 41 percent.
The IPO would be this year s biggest tech offering globally, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, providing a rare bright spot for the depressed market for listings.
Facebook has such a broad penetration via its main network that it can push its messaging platforms to its many existing users.