initial public offerings (IPOs) trading on American exchanges

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Line (LN) began trading on the NYSE on 14 July 2016

Japan's Line (LN) instant messaging app surged 27% in its NYSE debut, after pricing 35 million American Depositary Receipts at 32.84 a share to raise $1.1 billion. That marks the biggest tech IPO so far this year. Line is controlled by South Korea's Naver.

Line, owned by South Korean internet company Naver, offered 22 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange, and 13 million shares on the Tokyo stock exchange. Shares are trading under the symbol "LN." 

Shares of the Tokyo-based company jumped more than 30 percent after the offering with a high of $44.49, valuing the company at more than $9 billion.  

The company provides free voice calls and messaging, and gets the bulk of its revenue from games, digital stickers, and advertising. Line's games have racked up a cumulative 628 million downloads, the company said. Line said it has 218 million monthly active users, with two-thirds in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia.

New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley, center, takes a selfie with Line character Cony on the bell podium on July 14, 2016.

The company formed after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as a way to overcome downed communications. It's now the seventh most-used messenger app in the world, the company said, with more than 35 apps available for download. Stickers are a main source of revenue, contributing to more than $270 million in sales. "Stick packs" cost between $2 to $3 for a set of one or two dozen.

In response to questions about the character-driven revenue model, Jung-ho Shin, co-founder and chief global officer of Line pointed to the recent resurgence of Pokemon.

Line is the fifth tech company to go public this year. At this point in 2015, 14 tech companies had gone public.

The IPO market has slowed significantly this year. As of last month, 31 companies had gone public in the U.S., down from 69 in the first five months of 2015 and 115 in the same period in 2014, Barron's reported, citing Renaissance Capital.

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