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(2nd LD) Naver's Line Corp., big hit in Tokyo, New York stock markets

All News 17:27 July 15, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS remarks by Naver founder in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, July 15 (Yonhap) -- Line Corp., a Japan-based global chat app operator, successfully debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday following a strong start on Wall Street overnight.

The subsidiary of South Korea's dominant internet service firm Naver Corp. finished at 4,345 yen (US$41), up 32 percent from the IPO price, heralding a successful debut. Line sold a total of 13 million shares in Tokyo and 22 million on Wall Street.

The dual listing drove up the firm's market value to around 10 trillion won (US$8 billion).

In New York, Line's shares, which were priced at US$32.84 each, surged 26.6 percent Thursday (local time) to finish at $41.58. It is traded there as dollar-denominated American Depositary Receipt (ADR) under the ticker sign "LN".

Line secured more ammunition to expand its business to the U.S. and other new markets.

As the world's seventh-largest mobile messenger provider, it boasts 218 million active users a month, mostly Asians. Line is especially popular in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Its revenue soared 40 percent on-year to $1.2 billion last year on hikes in the sales of electronic cartoon emoticons, called "stickers," games and other services.

But it recorded 7.6 billion yen in net loss. Some investors voice doubts that Line will be able to score a victory in fierce competition with American and Chinese rivals.

Lee Hae-jin, chairman of the board at Naver and founder of the Internet portal, said Line's user base in its key markets, including Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, is expected to further grow.

"The penetration rate of smartphones in Japan is likely to rise," Lee told a rare press conference in Chuncheon, in South Korea's Gangwon Province, on Friday.

Lee said there are "potential" new business opportunities in Thailand and Indonesia.

Lee said proceeds from the stock listing would be used to develop new services and acquire start-ups in the future.

"Although we have no immediate target for a merger and acquisition, our main target will be ones with strong technological capabilities, like Israel's start-up sector," Lee said.

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

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