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At $1.3 billion, Line's upcoming IPO looks like the biggest tech debut of 2016

There’s just something about those cute stickers that has made Line absolutely irresistible, and not only to its more than 200 million monthly users but now, to investors as well. Japan’s Line Corp. has set the price of its initial public offering at the very top of its targeted range, the company revealed Monday, and plans to sell 35 million shares at 3,300 yen each. And with the sale of 5.25 million additional shares through what it called a greenshoe, Line’s total raised may stand at an impressive $1.3 billion. This just might make it the largest tech debut of 2016.

“There’s a lot of hope for Line’s future as a media platform,” Hiroshi Naya, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute Inc. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg. “We’ve pretty much solidified which smartphone services we use and which ones we don’t, and Line has really established itself as something a lot of people use everyday for communication.”

Shares are set to begin trading in New York on July 14, and in Tokyo the following day. The New York-traded stock has been priced at $32.84, and Line plans on selling 25.3 million shares in the U.S.

Initially launched in the wake of Japan’s devastating 2011 earthquake, Line’s original purpose was to serve as a method of connection in lieu of otherwise absent communication in the disaster’s aftermath. But in the years since, the messaging app has become a dominant presence not only in Japan, but throughout much of Asia as well. Most of Line’s revenue comes from games and through the sale of its popular stickers, though the messaging app has noted that it will seek to increase its profit by way of advertising.

“The tech sector is a hot space at the moment, as there’s a lot of private equity stuff that people can’t get access to,” Gavin Parry, managing director at Parry International Trading in Hong Kong, told Reuters. “The Line listing has given access to a sector that’s tightly held and perceived as high growth, even if the fundamental economics often don’t scratch up.”

Line is a subsidiary of South Korea’s Naver Corp.

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