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Line Messaging App Set for the Biggest Tech IPO of 2016; Hopes to Raise $1 Billion

The logo of free messaging app Line is pictured on a smartphone and the company's stuffed toy in this photo illustration taken in Tokyo, Japan, September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Illustration/Files

The logo of free messaging app Line is pictured on a smartphone and the company's stuffed toy in this photo illustration taken in Tokyo, Japan, September 23, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Illustration/Files

The company, looking to expand on booming popularity among smartphone users in Asia, priced its shares at a top-of-the-range $32, suggesting strong demand for the sale.

Tokyo: Japan-based messaging app Line said Monday it could raise more than $1.0 billion in one of the year's biggest share sales, as it makes its market debut this week.

The company, looking to expand on booming popularity among smartphone users in Asia, priced its shares at a top-of-the-range $32, suggesting strong demand for the sale.

Based on that price, the initial public offering will raise $1.14 billion through the sale of 35 million shares.

An option to sell more shares could put the IPO on course to raise a total of $1.3 billion.

Line, owned by South Korea's Naver, starts trading in New York on Thursday and in Tokyo Friday.

The sale, valuing the firm at about $6.9 billion, is the biggest technology IPO this year, Bloomberg News reported, and the largest so far in Tokyo.

The popular app lets users make free calls, send instant messages, and post photos or short videos, along with a host of other paid services.

It combines attributes from Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp, with games and a mobile payment service also on offer.

Line's messaging service launched in 2011 after the quake-tsunami tragedy damaged Japan's telecoms infrastructure nationwide, forcing people to use online resources to communicate.

It is best known for letting users send each other cute cartoon "stickers", and is hugely popular in Japan, particularly among teenagers.

The app has a strong presence in Asian markets such as Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia, as well as some Spanish-speaking nations, including Spain and Mexico.

first published:July 11, 2016, 15:54 IST