SoftBank’s internet business to invest $4.7 bln in tech

Z Holdings is a consolidated subsidiary of SoftBank. Naverwas the previous majority owner of Line.

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SoftBank’s internet subsidiary Z Holdings outlined plans on Monday to invest 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) in technology over five years with a focus on artificial intelligence.

The announcement follows the completion of the merger of its internet business Yahoo Japan with chat app operator Line, creating a $30 billion internet heavyweight.

Z Holdings is targeting sales of 2 trillion yen and operating income of 225 billion yen in three years, the firm said in a statement.

Following a complex transaction, two thirds of Z Holdings shares will be owned by a new holding company, A Holdings, owned 50:50 by SoftBank Corp and South Korea’s NaverCorp.

Z Holdings is a consolidated subsidiary of SoftBank. Naver was the previous majority owner of Line.

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The CEOs of Z Holdings and Line, Kentaro Kawabe and Takeshi Idezawa respectively, become co-CEOs of the combined entity, reflecting the hybrid origin of the firm which straddles e-commerce, payments, advertising and chat.

The company said it was looking to integrate Line’s QR code payment service Line Pay into peer PayPay, which SoftBank has promoted aggressively to attract consumers away from cash, in April 2022.

Z Holdings retains its listed status, one of a number of such firms among SoftBank’s domestic holdings, despite calls for Japanese firms to unwind such structures.

Z Holdings also controls online fashion retailer Zozo Inc and office supplies firm Askul Corp. ($1 = 106.5600 yen)

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