Japan's Line raising $1.3 billion via convertible bonds for money businesses

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s Line Corp is raising around 148.1 billion yen ($1.33 billion) through convertible bonds to fund the popular chat app operator’s aggressive expansion in the financial services business.

The logo of Line Corp is seen at the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, January 25, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The company said on Tuesday it plans to spend the bulk of the money raised on promotion of “LINE Pay” and other new financial services by end-2021.

“LINE Pay” allows users to send money to one another using the chat app as well as to do offline payment at stores. Line said the payment service’s transaction volume jumped 83 percent to 195 billion yen in its second quarter.

Line said it has 164 million monthly active users of the messaging app in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

The company is trying to take advantage of its wide, young user base beyond advertising business and is planning to launch a set of new financial services.

It has agreed with Nomura Holdings Inc to jointly set up an internet-focused securities brokerage.

The company has also set up a Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange BITBOX, though it has not obtained regulatory approval in Japan to run a crypto exchange.

In a statement on Tuesday, the company said it would issue zero coupon convertible bonds maturing in 2023 and 2025.

A portion of the bonds will be issued to South Korea-based parent Naver Corp to maintain its ownership above a certain level, Line said in a statement.

Naver’s stake would fall to 70.42 percent from the current 72.86 percent when all the bonds are converted into stock.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Vyas Mohan and Muralikumar Anantharaman