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Published: Sat, July 16, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Line Jumps in Debut of 2016's Biggest Technology IPO


Japanese messaging app Line Corp's shares surged after listing on the NY and Tokyo stock exchange after the biggest initial public offering by a tech company this year.

Revenue-wise, it blasted past $1 billion for the first time in 2015, but posted a loss of $76 million for the year.

To mark its public debut, Chief Global Officer Jungho Shin, Chief Financial Officer In Joon Hwang and Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Jun Masuda rang the opening bell.

Line's dual listing in Japan and the US has also put the company in a better position to pursue global expansion and strategic M&As overseas, by lifting the company's brand value on a more global scale, Lee said.

Tokyo's influential day traders will be watching Line's open ahead of its debut in its home market today, and could spark an early feeding frenzy for the shares.

This photo, provided by AP, shows a group of Line characters standing in front of the New York Stock Exchange on July 14, 2016, to celebrate the firm's listing.

But Line remains challenged to boost its popularity beyond East and Southeast Asia, and some Spanish language markets, in a field crowded with innovative mobile messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, Skype and Snapchat.

Line Corporation is a subsidiary of South Korea-based Naver Corporation.

After the offering, Naver's ownership dropped to 80.8 percent.

The bulk of Line's revenue comes from games and sales of emojis and electronic stickers.

Japan and Thailand are especially ripe for increasing ad-based revenue due to their relatively low rate of digital advertising, Idezawa said.

Line executives said proceeds from the share sale would initially be earmarked for developing in markets where the service is strongest.

Line's users are mainly in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Using the new funds from the IPO, Line is looking to develop services that can add new value to the app as well as explore appealing technologies that would allow the firm to venture out of its Asian strongholds and into new markets in the West, Lee said.

The company needed to think much more globally in order to build on its user base, said John Roos, founding partner of Geodesic Capital.

"But Line already has a big number of users and I think it will be tough for them to increase that".

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Nomura are among the underwriters to the IPO.

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