Sun, Sep 07, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Japan’s Rakuten seeking to buy Ebates, report says

CASHBACK REWARDS:The acquisition would allow Rakuten to provide a reward system to US customers and is part of the firm’s aggressive overseas expansion

AFP, TOKYO

Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten Inc is in the final stage of talks to buy Ebates, a US cashback shopping service provider, a report said yesterday.

Rakuten is expected to acquire a majority stake in the San Francisco-based company at an estimated price of more than ¥100 billion (US$950 million), the Nikkei Shimbun reported.

Rakuten has a credit-card-linked reward points system in Japan to help retain its customer base.

Lacking a similar setup in the US, it decided to acquire Ebates Shopping.com Inc to lead shoppers looking for cashback deals to the Rakuten virtual mall, the report said.

Ebates operates in such markets as North America, China and South Korea, running Web sites which offer rebates and coupons for shopping from more than 1,700 partners, including Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc, according to the report.

Since launching its business in Taiwan in 2008, Rakuten has expanded to more than 10 markets, encompassing the US, Europe and Asia, the report said.

However, its overseas e-commerce transactions, of slightly less than ¥100 billion per year pale beside its ¥1.7 trillion in domestic annual transactions.

Rakuten bought US video-streaming provider Viki Inc for about US$200 million last year and messaging app provider Viber Media Ltd for US$900 million in February.

By gaining a solid foothold in the US e-commerce market through the latest deal, Rakuten seeks to better compete against Amazon and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), the report said.

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