SoftBank, Naver opt for ‘squeeze-out’ route to take Line Corp private

Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

SoftBank Corp. and Naver Corp. said they would seek to compel Line Corp.’s remaining public shareholders to sell out so that the two companies can take the messaging service private.SoftBank and Naver made a tender offer to buy Line shares, but some investors had resisted the proposal because the 5,380 yen price was thought to be too low. The acquirers now plan to proceed with what’s known as a squeeze-out, a legal maneuver to force the last investors to part with their securities.

SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son wants to combine his Yahoo Japan internet business with Line to create a national champion, with the goal of competing more effectively against global giants like Google and Tencent Holdings Ltd. The combined company aims to spend 100 billion yen ($950 million) annually on development of AI-powered products.

As they announced the proposed deal last November, the two companies said the combination is driven by a sense of crisis that global giants are increasing their grip on the technology industry and countries like Japan risk falling behind. Together, Line and Yahoo Japan, which operates as Z Holdings Corp., will be able to share engineering resources, access broader sets of data and invest more in areas like artificial intelligence, the chief executive officers said at the time.

SoftBank Corp., the domestic wireless unit of Son’s empire, said 31.2 million shares, including 1.09 million share certificates, were tendered in the joint bid with Naver. They had said it could purchase up to 88.3 million shares.

Line shares are little changed for the year at 5,370 yen.

Bloomberg

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.