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Business deals

As Line hits growth wall it seeks SoftBank integration

A merger threatens to shake up Asia's digital services playing field

SoftBank is expected to become the parent company of a new joint venture to be set up by SoftBank and Naver. (Photos by Ken Kobayashi)

TOKYO -- The company that runs the popular-in-three-markets Line chat app is in the final stages of integration talks with the operator of the Yahoo Japan stable of internet services, a merger that could rearrange Asia's smartphone app battlefield.

It was in January when Line President Takeshi Idezawa declared that Line would go on a strategic investment offensive focusing on fintech and artificial intelligence. "We will double strategic investment," he said of the year ahead.

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