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Rumor: Alibaba to Invest in Line IM

Nbd.com, 2/26/14

Following reports that Japanese telecom and media corporation Softbank is seeking to acquire a stake in Line, Japan's most popular mobile instant messaging (IM) app, a number of reports in the Chinese media have surfaced that Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group is also considering an investment in the app.

Alibaba VP Cai Taoran has denied the rumors. Line's parent company, Korean internet conglomerate Naver, has also denied the rumors, stating that the company has no plans to sell Line.

Editor's Note: Line entered China at the end of 2012 through a cooperation with Chinese internet company Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU). The IM later began a promotion-related partnership with Beijing-based Android app store Wandoujia. Wandoujia obtained a USD 120 mln investment from Softbank in January 2014. For more background on this topic, please see "Update: NHN Allies with Qihoo 360 on China Release of Line" MD 12/12/12 issue, "Wandoujia, Line Partner on Cross-Promotion" MD 9/10/13 issue and "Wandoujia Secures USD 120 Mln Funding from Softbank" MD 1/13/14 issue.

Keywords: Cai Taoran Internet investment wireless Softbank NHN Alibaba Group Naver mobile IM Line IM

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