Business / Tech

SoftBank and Line enter talks to form a new tie-up

Kyodo, Staff Report

SoftBank Group Corp. is looking to reach an agreement with Line Corp. on a comprehensive partnership or acquisition through its group firm that runs Yahoo Japan, it was learned on Wednesday.

Softbank wants to strengthen its internet and smartphone related services by tapping into the user-base of Japan’s biggest messaging app operator.

Line’s market value on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section is at about ¥1.1 trillion. The acquisition will considerably change the landscape of the IT industry if realized. SoftBank is eyeing on having its group firm Z Holdings Corp., which operates Yahoo Japan, tie up with Line.

Data obtained through the internet, such as purchase history and search results, are a growth driver for Softbank and Yahoo Japan’s advertising business. Line, which boats more than 80 million users in Japan, is known for its effective ad distribution technology.

SoftBank has already teamed up with Line in a budget smartphone carrier business, with Softbank having taken a 51 percent stakes in Line Mobile, the operator of the low-cost carrier.

Line has bet heavily in the fields of smartphone payment services and artificial intelligence. It posted ¥33.9 billion net loss in the April to Setember period. As it may not be easy to keep up with other tech giants, Line could use SoftBank’s investments to survive the competition.