Yahoo Japan and Line Corp confirm merger agreement

The icons for Z Holdings Corp's Yahoo Japan and Line Corp's Line applications are displayed on a smartphone in this arranged

The icons for Z Holdings Corp's Yahoo Japan and Line Corp's Line applications are displayed on a smartphone in this arranged

SoftBank Corp, a mobile unit of telecom and investment giant SoftBank Group, holds a 44-percent stake in Z Holdings, while Line is controlled by Naver.

Line has 82 million users in Japan and Yahoo!

It will hold a press conference with Line at 0800 GMT.

Z Holdings will continue to be a consolidated subsidiary of SoftBank. Following the acquisition, SoftBank and Naver will turn Line into a 50-50 joint venture with Z Holdings under its umbrella.

Shares of Naver were trading hands 3.46 percent higher at 179,500 won on the Seoul bourse as of 2:00 p.m. The companies have been competing fiercely over the payment services, including by launching large-scale campaigns offering reward points to shoppers.

Chinese and USA tech giants funnel billions to trillions of yen into research and development annually while Japanese companies are left behind.

Yahoo Japan, which has been struggling to bolster services, such as mobile payments and e-commerce, has 50 million users and generated 954.7 billion yen in revenue a year ago.

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The combined sales would be the largest among Japanese online business operators, surpassing Rakuten Inc, according to Kyodo News service.

"The merger between the two rivals - Yahoo Japan and Line - is expected to open a new chapter in the Japanese market", said Kim Chang-kwon, an analyst at Mirae Asset Daewoo, adding that the new entity will eventually eye not only the Japanese market but beyond.

Line has a strong presence in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia but has been struggling to expand its global user base, which begs the question of whether a Line-Yahoo Japan force can keep up with overseas rivals.

After the merger, Naver and SoftBank will create synergy in areas such as e-commerce and simple payment based on each company's messenger service, portal service, and others, as they intend to enhance cooperation in AI for competition against global platform operators such as Google and Facebook in Japan and Southeast Asia.

SoftBank and Line have ever extra competed in fields all these as digital funds, although each equally firms have additionally been investing in artificial intelligence to reinforce their services.

"The research belt will be a new global trend that is able to help come up with a roadmap to compete against technologies led by Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, and Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei", he said. In a meeting with President Moon Jae-in in July, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son also said "AI will bring biggest innovation in the history of mankind" and that Korea too should focus on the sector.

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