Japanese Firm Rakuten Buys Ebates- Plans To Rival Amazon, eBay

The notion of Japan being a 'nation of copycats' has come to mind as a Rakuten EBates deal gets underway.

Japanese firm Rakuten Inc. on Tuesday announced a deal to purchase rebate website operator Ebates. Rakuten, the largest e-commerce firm in Japan, hopes to break into the United States e-commerce market and build a global platform similar to Amazon. Reuters reported that at a news conference held to announce the acquisition, Rakuten's CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, expressed intentions to reduce the company's reliance on the domestic Japanese market.

'This acquisition is Rakuten's first step into the U.S. market with an open form shopping site,' he said.

The company had earlier this year acquired mobile messaging app Viber and holds interest in other web based companies. Rakuten plans to link the app to Ebates in a bid to attract more foreign customers in order to meet an ambitious goal of boosting its percentage of overseas sales to 50 percent.

While the stock market has reacted negatively to the Rakuten Ebates purchase, the New York Times reported that Rakuten's share price fell 4.2 percent, CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani is confident that Ebates is the key to unlocking the global e-commerce market for his company.

This is all about the consumer and we are excited to be able to empower our members with even more ways to enjoy shopping on Rakuten and Ebates. Combined, Rakuten and Ebates will be able to offer our members access to what will undoubtedly be the world's largest selection of product.
With more than 2.5 million members spending more than $2 billion through its website last year, Ebates represents a ready platform that can easily be transformed to rival e-commerce giants such as Amazon, eBay and Alibaba.

For his part, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Ebates, says the decision to enter into a deal with the Japanese firm was an easy one even though the company was actually preparing for an IPO before Rakuten made them an offer. Johnson will continue to run Ebates after the sale is complete next month.

With an expected growth of 20 percent in the global online retail market, the acquisition will place Rakuten in a strategic position, giving the company access to Ebates's large customer base and the over 2,600 businesses which utilize the services of the internet discounter, these of course include Amazon and eBay. The acquisition brings the number of U.S based companies purchased by Rakuten to three. These companies include Viber, Slice, and Buy.com.

The Rakuten Ebates deal is valued at $1 billion.

[Original Image via Piggy Bank Builder]