Fri, Feb 15, 2008 - Page 12 News List

President Chain Store, Rakuten online shopping venture gets the green light

By Jerry Lin and Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Fair Trade Commission yesterday gave the green light to a planned NT$174 million (US$5.49 million) online shopping venture in Taiwan between President Chain Store Corp (統一超商) and Rakuten Inc, Japan's largest Internet shopping mall operator.

"To ensure fair competition, the approval is given on the condition that President Chain will not reject rival online shoppers from offering pickup and payment services at its convenience stores," section chief Brian Chang (張志斌) said after a commission meeting.

As the local online shopping market is not yet saturated, the commission said the Rakuten-backed virtual mall would not pose a threat to its local rivals, nor would it take up a majority share and monopolize the market in the near term.

President Chain filed an application to the commission after inking an agreement with Rakuten in late November to form the first Rakuten-backed virtual mall to operate outside Japan. The agreement marked the first cross-border collaboration between the company and the Uni-President Group in 30 years.

President Chain, which runs the nation's biggest convenience store chain with 4,600 7-Eleven stores, will hold a 49 percent stake in the venture, while Rakuten will own the remaining 51 percent.

President Chain expects the new online shopping site to begin operations in the second quarter of this year, break even in its second year and attract up to 3,000 virtual stores within three years.

President Chain shares rose NT$0.4, or 0.4 percent, to close at NT$92.50 on the Taiwan stock exchange yesterday.

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