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SoftBank’s Yahoo Japan merges with LINE to tackle ‘fierce competition’

SoftBank Corp is merging Z Holdings Corporation (ZHD), formerly known as Yahoo Japan, with messaging app LINE which is owned by South Korea’s NAVER Corporation to form a 50:50 venture. Yahoo Japan was renamed to Z Holdings Corporation on 1 October.

According to the press statement, the business venture aims to overcome “fierce domestic and global competition” by combining business resources, as well as implementing business investment targeting growth in the areas of advertising, AI, commerce, fintech, and O2O, as well as other new business areas. The merger is expected to complete by October 2020. According to multiple media reports, the new company is worth US$30 billion and is expected to help SoftBank compete against rivals such as Rakuten.

ZHD and LINE Group will combine business resources and adhere to ZHD’s slogan of “Make our users’ lives convenient to a surprising extent” and LINE’s “wow” value standard to create a more abundant and convenient lifestyle for users by offering AI and internet technology. Discussions of the merger have been held since mid-June this year between SoftBank and ZHD.

The press statement added that the merger “is positioned to be instrumental in increasing the corporate value” of SoftBank and NAVER. In the case of SoftBank, generating further growth at ZHD is a crucial component to its “Beyond Carrier” strategy, which sees the company moving beyond being a telecommunications carrier to develop new businesses using AI and Internet of Things. Meanwhile, the merger will help NAVER establish itself as a leading AI technology-based company, and accelerates the growth of its fintech services.

(Photo courtesy: LINE’s Facebook page)

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