Rakuten signs agreement to purchase Kobo
Rakuten, Inc. has just announced that it has signed a “definitive agreement” to “to acquire 100% of total issued and outstanding shares” of Kobo for a total of $315 million in cash. According to the press release, Rakuten is “one of the world’s top 3 e-commerce companies by revenue.” Just this February, Kobo’s major American retail partner, Borders, filed for bankruptcy. Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani had this to say about the acquisition:
We are very excited about this next step. Kobo provides one of the world’s most communal eBook reading experiences with its innovative integration of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter; while Rakuten offers Kobo unparalleled opportunities to extend its reach through some of the world’s largest regional e-commerce companies, including Buy.com in the US, Tradoria in Germany, Rakuten Brazil, Rakuten Taiwan, Lekutian in China, TARAD in Thailand, and Rakuten Belanja Online in Indonesia, and of course, Rakuten Ichiba in Japan.
We just got off a conference call with Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis, and he stressed that the acquisition was made to help Kobo expand its market share internationally and to gain the resources needed to continue to grow the company. It wasn’t borne of necessity after the Borders liquidation, and Kobo was never shopping itself to potential buyers — the partnership with Rakuten just made good business sense. And it’s not just about making money abroad, either. Serbinis was also quick to point out that partnering up with Rakuten-owned Buy.com gives Kobo a channel to increase its presence in the US as well. Looks like the e-reader market’s about to really heat up, and not just because of the Fire.