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NHN’s LINE expected to issue IPO early next year

TOKYO ― LINE Corp. said Wednesday that it planned to issue an initial public offering once its user base surpassed 300 million worldwide.

“LINE would be able to issue the initial public offering when the firm secures a stable number of users, say, over 300 million,” said Hwang In-joon, CFO of NHN, the holding company of LINE Corp.

The current number of LINE users stands at 230 million, having grown rapidly in just over two years since its release.
Hwang In-joon
Hwang In-joon

He said where the firm would issue the IPOs was “not decided yet,” but the United States, Japan and Korea were pointed to as possible candidates.

It is expected that LINE will achieve the goal of 300 million users this year and issuing an IPO would be possible next year at the latest.

In order to exceed the 300-million threshold, the firm will use aggressive marketing tactics in the North American and European markets in the latter half of this year, the CFO added.

LINE chief executive officer Akira Morikawa backed up the idea of going public.

“Issuing IPOs is one of the measures on the table now. IPOs must be necessary when increasing the market share in the North American market and other regional markets,” CEO Morikawa said.

Another business method to expand its business would be to merge local companies to localize its products, the CEO said.

LINE currently offers free text messaging, voice calls and group chats both locally and internationally. It is also known for peppering its messages with fun emoticons or “stickers.”

The mobile messenger firm plans to add a video call function to the mobile application by the end of this year.

In regards to doing business in the Chinese market ― deemed one of the toughest markets for mobile messengers to penetrate ― the CEO said the company was currently targeting certain user bases such as working women and those who liked shopping and traveling in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

“We will not just try to increase market share, but make efforts to provide the best products to users,” he said.

Morikawa also promised that the firm would pursue coprosperity among small, mid-sized and big firms alike by providing a business platform fair to every business.

By Kim Young-won, Korea Herald correspondent
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