SoftBank, which owns more than 40 per cent of Z Holdings, and South Korea’s Naver, which owns more than 70 per cent of Line, agreed to merge the two companies. SoftBank and Naver will first jointly launch an offer to privatise it; offer 5,200 yen per share, although the final price is still to be negotiated. SoftBank’s goal is to combine Yahoo Japan with Line’s messaging services.
SoftBank plans to merge its Yahoo Japan Internet business with Line to expand its online presence and build a global rival in artificial intelligence.
In the complex deal, SoftBank and Naver will first be the first to privatize Line through an offer of 5,200 yen a share. Z Holdings, a division of SoftBank Telecom, or Yahoo Japan, plans to merge with Line in October 2020. The final price of the bid is still under discussion and the memorandum of understanding is not binding.
SoftBank, the domestic telecoms arm of Sun’s business empire, owns 44 per cent of Z Holdings, while Line is controlled by Naver.
SoftBank and Line are increasingly competing in areas such as digital payments, and a coalition could allow them to save money on subsidies. The two companies have also been investing in artificial intelligence to improve their services.
A person familiar with the matter said earlier that Line, which started talks this summer, is looking for a partnership to compete with bigger rivals from the U.S. and China in artificial intelligence.