Alibaba, Softbank in talks to invest in Line: South Korean newspaper

SEOUL Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:28pm EDT

A man plays snooker in a hall inside Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Chance Chan

A man plays snooker in a hall inside Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, April 23, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Chance Chan

SEOUL (Reuters) - Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N] and SoftBank Corp (9984.T) are in talks to invest in or enter a partnership with Japan-based messenger app Line Corp, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported.

However, a source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters that Line's parent company, South Korea-based Naver Corp (035420.KS), was not considering a stake sale to either of the two.

The newspaper, citing an unnamed high-ranking source in Naver, said Softbank and Alibaba each hope to acquire about a 30 percent stake in Line.

A Naver spokesman told Reuters that it would address the matter during its earnings conference call later on Thursday morning and declined to elaborate.

Line in February denied a media report that it was in talks to sell a stake to SoftBank.

Line is considering an IPO in Tokyo and the United States.

Japan-based SoftBank and China-based Alibaba could not immediately be reached by email before business hours on Thursday.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Se Young Lee; Editing by Tony Munroe and Richard Pullin)

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