In a press release posted today, SoftBank and NAVER Corporation announced an ongoing business integration agreement to merge their subsidiaries Z Holdings, otherwise known as Yahoo! Japan, and LINE to create a new business group. Upon completion of the merger, the combined company will become a consolidated subsidiary of SoftBank.
According to the agreement, SoftBank and NAVER will each have 50% ownership over the resulting jointly held companies. The parent companies hope that the collaboration will be very profitable for both parties. They aim to use their combined pool of resources to achieve their goals and further advance their research in fields like AI-based technology and 5G:
"The Business Integration aims to bring together the business resources of the ZHD Group and the LINE Group, which have overwhelming user bases and abundant assets in Japan, to provide a convenient experience to users in Japan and bring Japanese society and industry up-to-date through strengthening existing business areas and investing in expansion into new business areas. Through further expanding this innovative model globally, SoftBank aims to be a leading company that is a driving force across Japan, Asia and worldwide. The Business Integration envisions business cooperation between SoftBank, NAVER, ZHD and LINE in a variety of areas and industries, including among others, AI, internet searches, telecommunications, advertisement, payment settlement, communication, etc., and is positioned to be instrumental in increasing the corporate value of SoftBank and NAVER: in the case of SoftBank, by generating further growth at ZHD, a crucial component to SoftBank’s “Beyond Carrier” strategy, and creating new business opportunities in the 5G era, and in the case of NAVER, by supporting its efforts to establish itself as a leading AI technology-based IT company and accelerating the growth of its Fintech services using the most advanced technologies."
It is important to note that the agreement is yet to be realized and is still non-binding for all parties involved. According to the schedule disclosed in the press release, SoftBank, NAVER, Z Holdings, and LINE intend to enter a binding 'Definitive Agreement' by December 2019.