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Govt. to compile extra budget after election win www3.nhk.or.jp

The Japanese government is set to start compiling a supplementary budget needed to implement new economic stimulus measures.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to instruct Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economic Revitalization Minister Nobuteru Ishihara on Tuesday to draw up the economic package.
This comes after his ruling coalition won a majority of the contested seats in Sunday's Upper House election.
The measures will likely include the construction of ports for large cruise ships to welcome more foreign tourists and low-interest financing for the construction of a maglev train line in order to speed up the project.
The government is also considering measures for disaster prevention and mitigation, as well as offering more support for child care and nursing care.
The government will likely also earmark money for small and medium-sized firms amid growing uncertainties sparked by Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
Some members of the ruling parties are calling for a budget of about 98 billion dollars.
But a major problem is how to secure funding for the package.
Tax revenues are not likely to increase due to sluggish corporate earnings amid the strengthening of the yen.
Experts say the government may be forced to issue government bonds before the fiscal year ends in March next year.


Japanese shares continue their rally www.bbc.com


Japanese shares continued their gains on Tuesday, adding another 2.4% in morning trade after already clocking up 4% on Monday.
The Nikkei 225 rose to 16,075.33 points.
Nintendo shares once again were among the strong performers, adding as much as 7%.
That came after stocks in the gaming company had jumped 25% on Monday as the company's smartphone game Pokemon Go proved a huge international success.
Shares across Asia were also buoyed by Wall Street rising to record peaks on the back of talk of policy stimulus in Japan and the UK.
In Australia, the ASX/200 was 0.5% higher at 5,364.50 points.
South Korea's benchmark Kospi index edged up by 0.2% to 1,992.84.


Starbucks to raise US workers' salaries www.bbc.com

Coffee giant Starbucks has said it will raise wages for workers at all its US stores in October.
The pay rises will result in 5% to 15% increases for workers.
Starbucks faced criticism recently for cutting staff hours, and raising prices to meet profit expectations.
In a letter to employees Starbucks' chief executive, Howard Schultz said the company was looking to 'strike a balance' between profit and social responsibility.
Starbucks will increase base pay by at least 5%, though it may be more for workers in certain areas of the country.
The coffee chain is also doubling the amount of stock it distributes to hourly employees, who have worked for the company for at least two years.
The combined increases could result in 15% more income for some store employees.
"Striking the delicate balance between profit and a social conscience is a responsibility I take personally," Mr Schultz wrote.
The world's largest coffee chain employs 150,000 workers in its US stores.
Cutting hours
It has recently come under fire from employees who claim their hours have been cut.
More than 12,800 people signed an online petition alleging the coffee giant slashed hours.
The petition's creator claims that "morale is at the lowest I've seen in nearly 9 years of service ad that workers have found it hard to get more than 25 hours of work per week.
One factor is thought to be the growing number of mobile apps that allows customers to order and pay for drinks on their phones, meaning less sales assistants are needed.
In his letter, Mr Schultz addressed the scheduling concerns and said the company would work to ensure employees had the hours they needed to be eligible for certain benefits.
"You have my personal commitment that we will work with every partner to ensure you have the hours you need," he wrote.
Starbucks also faced customer anger last week when it raised the prices of certain beverage ahead of schedule. The company blamed a computer program for the increases coming into effect early.


The Mysterious Sale of Mongolia's Erdenet Mine www.thediplomat.com

“I will talk about the good news today. It’s been nothing but good news as of late.” Fiddling with a set of paper pads, Mongolian Prime Minister Chimed Saikhanbileg half-read, half-spoke to a small crowd of journalists. Behind him, Chinggis Khan looked on from the wall, unperturbed. The good news, Saikhanbileg said, was that at last Mongolia would gain full ownership of a sprawling copper mining complex, Erdenet, which it had until then shared with the Russians. Another colonial legacy buried at last. A day to be proud of, June 28, 2016 – a day to remember forever, or at least until the next morning.

In the morning of June 29, Mongolia went to the polls. The electoral contest that pitched the ruling Democratic Party against its main challenger, the Mongolian People’s Party, was resolved by midnight. The democrats faced an astounding rout: 65 of the 76 seats in the Parliament went to the MPP, leaving the demoralized, fractious, tired Democratic Party with only nine. If Saikhanbileg expected to arouse patriotic sentiment, he badly miscalculated. The promise of Erdenet did not help his party. Saikhanbileg, too, was trampled over in the political melee, losing his parliamentary seat and his premiership.

But even as Saikhanbileg stepped aside, questions remained: what exactly was on that piece of paper that he waved in front of the journalists on the day before the elections? Who bought Erdenet, how and why? And who will benefit as one of Mongolia’s largest mining ventures changes hands? There are also lingering geopolitical questions: why did Vladimir Putin agree to relinquish such a significant asset in a neighboring country where, by all accounts, Russia is striving to preserve and increase its leverage?

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Erdenet is Mongolian for “treasure.” Legend has it that in the old times Chinese prospectors mined the site but they were killed by a bolt of lightning. The Russians fared better. In 1973 the Soviet and Mongolian governments established a joint venture to develop a copper and molybdenum mine at what still is one of the largest deposits of copper ores in the world. Production began in 1978. Erdenet was not just a factory; it became Mongolia’s third largest city – an agglomeration of ugly apartment blocks clustered to the side of a gargantuan Martian-red pit.

Copper was shipped to the USSR at below-market prices, fueling Mongolian frustration with the semi-colonial economic relationship. The collapse of the Soviet bloc changed that. In 1991 the original joint venture agreement was updated, leaving Mongolia with 51 percent of the enterprise to Russia’s 49 percent. This was not a relationship made in heaven. The Russians had little control over the venture. Until 2011, when Mongolia repealed its windfall profits tax, 90 percent of the profits were siphoned off as taxes, leaving little to Russia.

Still, from Moscow’s perspective, Erdenet was an important strategic asset. Having lost ground in the 1990s (mostly to China, now by far Mongolia’s largest trading partner), the Russians took comfort in the clout afforded by their joint ventures in Mongolia: the trans-Mongolian railroad, the company Mongolrostsvetmet (which mines fluorite, gold, and iron ore), and, of course, Erdenet – the three pillars holding up the imposing dome of Russia’s fading economic influence.

Economically, though, these assets are something of a drag. The aging railroad requires investment of capital for repairs and upgrades, something Russian Railways – a 50 percent owner of the railroad – has had to commit to in the (still unrealized) hope of leveraging its presence in Mongolia to gain access to important copper and coal deposits in the Gobi desert. Meanwhile, Erdenet and Mongolrostsvetmet, though not losing money as had happened in the past, yield very insignificant profits. In 2015 consolidated profits of both assets are said to have been a paltry $4.6 million.

The tumbling of copper prices since 2011 have hit Erdenet hard, eating into profits. In Moscow, there was mounting frustration with the bureaucratic obstacles of managing the joint venture, and with the unwillingness of the Mongolian-run management to consult with the Russians on key operational questions. The Russian shareholders – at least those with a modicum of economic sense – could not be blamed for wondering: what’s in it for us? So when the Russians were offered a hefty $390 million for their stake in Erdenet and another $10 million for Mongolrostsvetmet, it is perhaps not so surprising that they decided to cash in.

But then, again, the value of these assets for Russia was not in the profits that they consistently failed to deliver. The value was in the leverage they afforded, and in their genealogy, which goes back to the heyday of the unbreakable Russian-Mongolian friendship. The Russian shareholder – the state-owned company Rostec – would have needed the government’s approval to pull out of such an important geopolitical investment. This means, in practice, agreement from Putin. And Putin does not always follow the money.

The final decision to sell Erdenet was evidently taken in Tashkent in late June, during the recent session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It remains unclear what promises, if any, Putin received for his agreement to the deal. It is hard to imagine that he simply signed away two of the three pillars of Russian influence in Mongolia without getting something in return. After all, $400 million dollars is really not that much for Russia, even in times of sanctions and austerity.

But if the Russian side of the story remains murky at best, the Mongolian side is mired in an outright scandal. When Saikhanbileg advertised the agreement on June 28, he made a lot of the fact that Erdenet would now be a 100 percent Mongolian company. But it was not as good as it sounded. It was not the State that was buying the 49 percent Russian stake. It was, rather, a private entity, the Mongolian Copper Corporation, fronting for one of the country’s large private banks, the Trade and Development Bank.

This is where the message backfired. Instead of inspiring voters with the announcement of the imminent return of important economic assets to Mongolia, Saikhanbileg put them off: Putin was simply being replaced by anonymous oligarchs. A key strategic asset was being sold down the river to a private bank, and the Mongolian government, not getting a tugrug­-worth from the deal, did not seem to mind. Ney, the prime minister cheered at the transaction!

The opposition parties screamed bloody murder. Surely, there had to be consultations. The terms of the Erdenet agreement required that the Russians first offer their stake to the Mongolian government and only if the government turned it down could a third party be brought into the deal.

According to our sources, there in fact was consultation between the two governments – but it was all done in secret. On June 13 the Mongolian Foreign Ministry sent a note to Russia approving the transaction. The sale was sealed within days, and the money was promptly wired. The Mongolian Copper Corporation – an entity registered at a private apartment in one of Ulaanbaatar’s rundown middle class neighborhoods – borrowed $200 million from the Trade and Development Bank, and came up with another $200 million from its own, undisclosed, sources. The head of the Corporation, the 28-year old Tsooj Purevtuvshin – known to his friends as “Tush” – was not available for comment.

The only thing known about Purevtuvshin is that he is a young man of modest means and that he studied International Law at Mongolian National University before working, briefly, as a legal adviser to the Trade and Development Bank.

Our effort to locate the phantom corporation (based on the contact address found on its hastily-assembled website) led, strangely enough, to the office of Bloomberg TV – Mongolia.

The deal was in the making for two years. “The negotiations were carried out in utmost secrecy,” the CEO of the Trade and Development Bank Onon Orkhon told us. “There were external and internal forces that could hinder the deal. These were not just market forces. There were many interested buyers in Russia, Kazakhstan, and China.” Russian sources have confirmed the picture. The head of Rostec Sergey Chemezov – keen to sell the assets – reportedly spoke to Putin twice before winning him over. At least some officials at the Russian Foreign Ministry, including Deputy Minister Igor Morgulov, are said to have strenuously opposed the sale.

The agreement was signed on June 24, four days before the prime minister announced it to the startled Mongolian public. Within days the old Russian-Mongolian management board was dissolved. On June 27, “Tush,” as the head of the Mongolian Copper Corporation, and the Mongolian Ministry of Finance issued a joint decree, mandating the current Erdenet management to refrain from taking any actions or disposing of any property. The decree also appointed an overseer, Dugree Tserenbadam, who turned up at the factory in the company of four bodyguards. The company’s current 6,000 staff, surprised by these dramatic developments, are pondering their fate.

The Mongolian mining sector is well known for its corruption. The signing and ripping of contracts, the constant political infighting, and the swelling tide of resource nationalism, have marred many a mining deal. Foreign investors, like Rio Tinto, have felt the heat. Many others were spooked by Mongolia’s uncertain political and legal environment, which contributed to the country’s rapid slide from the world’s fastest-growing economy in 2011 to its present miserable and worsening state.

The problem – and here the foreign investors are very much in the same boat or, shall we say, riding the same camel as the Mongolian public – is that the lack of transparency in mining deals hurts everyone: the voters who have the right to know how their country’s key assets are being dealt with; companies denied the right to compete in an open and fair manner; and of course the State itself, misused for private gain, and so ultimately delegitimized.

Saikhanbileg’s announcement on the day before the elections was hardly “good news.” It was, rather, mostly bad news: a surprise that set off a maelstrom of recriminations not just from the clueless public and the civil society but also from the ascendant political forces. The Democratic Party did not expect to be so badly beaten at the polls. Now that it has been, its 11th-hour business deals will be closely scrutinized and possibly challenged by the new power brokers, leading to the sort of prolonged malaise that the country’s mining industry and the struggling Mongolian economy are unfortunately all too familiar with.

Lkhagva Erdene is an investigative journalist with MongolTV in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Sergey Radchenko is Professor of International Relations at Cardiff University, U.K. and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Washington, DC.



S&P hits record high as economy shows signs of strength www.reuters.com

The S&P 500 hit a record intraday high on Monday, spurred by increased investor confidence in the U.S. economy following a stellar jobs report last week.

The gains in U.S. stocks were broad-based, with seven of the 10 major S&P sectors higher. Energy stocks .SPNY led the gainers with a 0.72 percent rise as oil prices recovered some losses.

Utilities and telecom service stocks, considered defensive investments, were lower.

"Investors are chasing returns because there is no yield in the bond market," said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.

"They are taking a chance in equities as there is a perception that the U.S. markets are a safe-haven on a relative international basis."

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes US10YT=RR rose, but remained close to the record low hit in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

The electoral success of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the emergence of Theresa May as the sole British PM candidate quelled some of the political uncertainty that has roiled markets in the past few weeks.

The S&P 500 .SPX touched a record intraday high of 2139.34 points, topping a high of 2134.72 it hit in May 2015. At 10:10 a.m. ET, it was up 7.61 points, or 0.36 percent, at 2,137.51.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 87.69 points, or 0.48 percent, at a more than 13-month high of 18,234.43, while the Nasdaq Composite index .IXIC was up 33.82 points, or 0.68 percent, at 4,990.57.

Much of how the indexes perform over the next few weeks will depend of the quality of second-quarter corporate earnings, which kick off with Alcoa (AA.N) reporting results after markets close on Monday.

"We have entered the gateway to earnings and that could change everything. If they start to underwhelm investors, that could certainly derail the euphoria," Bakhos said.

Earnings of S&P 500 components are expected to fall 4.8 percent, compared with the year-earlier quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data. First-quarter earnings had fallen 5 percent.

Investors will also watch out for comments from company executives, especially those of big banks later this week, on the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

While recent data has pointed to a recovery in the U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve is expected to remain cautious on raising interest rates as it gauges the fallout of the Brexit vote.

Traders have priced in a mere 27 percent chance a rate hike in December, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool. The Fed next meets on July 26-27.

Shares of Apple (AAPL.O) rose 0.7 percent to $97.36 and provided the biggest boost to the S&P and the Nasdaq.

Electric car maker Tesla (TSLA.O) rose 3.7 percent to $224.99 after CEO Elon Musk on Sunday tweeted his intention to soon publish part two of his "top secret Tesla masterplan".

Twitter (TWTR.K) fell 2.5 percent to $17.64 after SunTrust Robinson lowered its rating to "neutral" from "buy".

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,105 to 687. On the Nasdaq, 1,852 issues rose and 706 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 58 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 112 new highs and three new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)



Boeing signs £3bn deal for nine marine patrol planes www.bbc.com

The UK government will buy nine new marine patrol planes from Boeing in a decade-long deal worth £3bn.
The Ministry of Defence's deal for the submarine-hunting P-8A Poseidon aircraft also covers training, maintenance and support.
Boeing will build a new £100m facility for the planes at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.
The US company will also deliver 50 Apache AH-64E attack helicopters to the British Army.
Boeing expects to create about 2,000 new UK jobs in the coming years by expanding its maintenance and support operations for both military and commercial customers in Europe.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced the P-8A deal on Monday at the start of the Farnborough Airshow.
He said it showed that the UK was open for business despite the referendum vote to leave the EU.
"Whatever uncertainties our country faces, I want the message to go out loud and clear: the UK will continue to lead the world in both civil and defence aerospace," Mr Cameron said.

The P-8A planes will fill a gap in the UK's defence capabilities that has existed since 2010 when the Nimrod was retired.
"Boeing is committed to the UK government's prosperity agenda and we share the goals of enhanced economic growth that the prime minister has set out to us," said Dennis Muilenburg, its chief executive.
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Media captionAaron Heslehurst looks at what will be on display at this year's Farnborough Airshow
Boeing has doubled its UK workforce and more than doubled its annual spending with the UK supply chain over the last five years to more than 2,000 people and £1.8bn respectively in 2015.
Separately, the UK government announced a further £365m worth of aerospace research and development, to be jointly funded with industry.
New orders
The Farnborough show is expected to see a crop of aircraft orders announced, although not as many as the record haul of £204bn at the last event in 2014.
Nevertheless, the long-term prospects for the industry are positive, Boeing said.
Also on Monday, the company unveiled its latest annual outlook for demand for civil aircraft. Boeing predicted that huge growth in air travel over the next 20 years will mean demand for more than 39,600 new aircraft.

The company said the biggest growth would come from Asia, as airlines and fleet operators expand and replace aircraft.
The increase marks a 4.1% rise on Boeing's forecast in 2015, with the aircraft valued at $5.9tn (£4.6tn).
Passenger traffic will grow 4.8% a year over the next two decades, Boeing said.
"Despite recent events that have impacted the financial markets, the aviation sector will continue to see long-term growth, with the commercial fleet doubling in size," said Randy Tinseth, vice-president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
In an industry that needs long-term planning and investment, Boeing's annual Current Market Outlook, launched on Monday at Farnborough, is regarded as one of the most comprehensive analysis of industry trends.
Boeing said the strongest growth would come from Asia, with demand for 15,130 new aircraft, followed by North America, with 8,330 aircraft. Europe is third, with a demand for 7,570 aircraft.
Narrow-body demand
As well as growth in air travel, demand will also be driven by airlines' need for more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly aircraft.
Boeing said the most popular market segment would continue to be for single-aisle - or narrow-body - aircraft, which are the workhorses of the industry. The US manufacturer predicted that more than 28,000 single-aisle aircraft would be needed over the next two decades.
"Airplanes that size already account for 76% of the current single-aisle global backlog, and our products have the clear advantage in that space," said Mr Tinseth.



Theresa May to succeed Cameron as UK PM on Wednesday www.bbc.com

Theresa May is to become the UK's prime minister on Wednesday evening - after David Cameron announced he would quit after Prime Minister's Questions.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said he would offer his resignation to the Queen on Wednesday afternoon at Buckingham Palace.
Mrs May's only rival to succeed Mr Cameron as Conservative leader, Andrea Leadsom, pulled out earlier on Monday.
Mr Cameron, PM since 2010, said he would quit after the UK's Brexit vote.
He said he would be chairing his final cabinet meeting on Tuesday.



Mitsubishi wins first European order for MRJ www3.nhk.or.jp

Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft is on its way to clinching the first European order for its MRJ passenger jets. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet is under development as the first Japanese-made passenger aircraft in half a century.
Sources close to the deal say management at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' subsidiary has reached an agreement in principle to sell up to 20 units to Swedish aircraft-leasing firm ROCKTON.
The company's executives plan to announce the deal at a major international airshow starting on Monday in Farnborough near London.
Mitsubishi has already received orders for 427 units of the MRJ from Japanese, as well as US and Asian carriers.
But Europe is a key market for small jets. Demand there is high for many short-distance flights connecting various cities and countries.
Observers are watching to see if the latest order will give momentum to Mitsubishi in grabbing world market share from leading makers of small passenger jets. These include Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier.


Russia Stalls China’s $1 Billion Hydropower Loan for Mongolia www.bloomberg.com

Russia’s concern about water rights is holding up a $1 billion loan package Mongolia is seeking from China to build a hydroelectric dam that would help the landlocked central Asian nation ensure independent supplies of energy.
The Kremlin said in June the project to build the Egiin Gol Hydro Power Plant on the Eg River in northern Mongolia could threaten Lake Baikal 580 kilometers downstream. China is withholding funds until a compromise can be found with Russia, according to Mongolian government documents seen by Bloomberg News.
Mongolia wants to build the 103 meter high dam to generate more power during peak times and in the winter, easing its reliance on electricity from Russia and dependence on coal-fired generation. Its power imports from Russia cost Mongolia the nation of 2.8 million people more than $25 million a year.
“We need to know if we are independent or just a marionette of Russia and China,” Odkhuu Durzee, the director of the hydro-power project, said in an interview in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. “If we give up it means the Western coalition will lose Mongolia as a supporting nation -- the Mongolian people will know that we can do nothing without Russian or Chinese permission.”
The proposed Egiin Gol dam would lower energy costs by generating an additional 315-megawatts of renewable power. It would do so by harnessing the power of the Eg River, one the biggest tributaries flowing into the Selegne River, which eventually discharges into Russia’s Lake Baikal -- the biggest freshwater body on Earth.
Putin’s Concern
At a meeting last month with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said the proposed dam would create “serious risks’’ to the water supply in the Irkutsk region. He proposed “increasing the supply of energy” to the Mongolia.
“We would like to study these plans very carefully with our friends in Mongolia and China,” Putin said at the time.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco, has bolstered the Russian case, issuing a report in 2014 saying that the dam would impact endangered species of fish and birds.
“This project may indeed have negative consequences for Baikal from our point of view,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin in Moscow, said in a text message. “We have said that and keep saying it to our counterparts in Mongolia. We expect that we’ll be able to find mutually acceptable solutions during our bilateral contacts.”
Mongolia’s Response
Odkhuu said Russia’s environmental concerns are unfounded and the push back from Russia and Unesco is politically motivated. Mongolia’s foreign ministry has argued that since the Eg River doesn’t cross an international border, the matter is an internal one for Mongolia and Russia shouldn’t have influence.
In the absence of a deal with China, Odkhuu said he’s preparing to apply for funding from other nations including Japan, Korea and Norway if the finance from China Ex-Im Bank never comes through.
Officials from China’s foreign ministry and the China Ex-Im Bank didn’t respond to requests for comment. The president’s office in Mongolia also declined to comment.
“Russia wants to see energy control of Mongolia,” Odkhuu said. “It becomes a political issue. The power lever is in Russian hands. Anytime we are stop listening, we have a fear they will shut off the power, especially in winter.’’
Growing Demand
While coal-power plants create a steady baseload of electricity, hydropower can be increased or decreased to meet changes in demand, said Odkhuu. Power capacity is strained by increased development in Ulaanbaatar, which added housing in the past few years.
“Many people thinking this issue can be settled by building another coal fired power plant,” Odkhuu said. “But a hydro plant cannot be replaced by a coal plant, due to the need to regulate the flow of electricity.”
China’s burgeoning relationship with Russia may be putting Mongolia at a disadvantage in negotiations, according to Odkhuu. During the same June meeting in Tashkent, Russia and China celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Sino-Russian Treaty of Friendship.
“China now has political interest aligned with Russia,” Odkhuu said. “Chinese have a clear understanding this is not an environmental issue, they know its political.”


Line messaging app set to launch year's biggest tech debut www.money.cnn.com

Popular messaging app operator Line is set to launch the year's biggest tech market debut.
On Monday, the company priced its IPO at 3,300 yen apiece, raising 115 billion yen ($1.14 billion). The Japanese firm is offering a total of 35 million new shares -- 13 million in Japan and 22 million in New York.
Line is slated for a dual listing later this week in New York and Tokyo, a much-anticipated debut that is the latest litmus test for tech IPOs, which have suffered a moribund year. Many companies are opting to raise money privately than to splash out with a public debut.
The company's IPO comes at a tough time -- Line faces growing competition from Facebook's (FB, Tech30) Messenger and WhatsApp, and Tencent's (TCEHY) WeChat. Plus, investors are still reeling from U.K.'s surprise vote to leave the EU, and remain wary in sentiment.
Related: This could be the biggest tech IPO of the year
Line debuted in 2011, and toyed briefly with an IPO in 2014 after quickly building a strong following with its business model of selling cute stickers that users buy, share and send with their smartphones. The app also offers a host of other services, such as voice and video calls.
Still, the company has struggled to greatly increase its foothold outside of its key markets of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. As of the end of March, Line boasted around 218 million monthly users.
The app is a subsidiary of South Korea's Naver Corp.