Japan online retailer Rakuten buys Brazil's Ikeda

June 7, 2011 - 4:43 AM

TOKYO (AP) — Rakuten Inc. said Tuesday it bought a majority stake in Brazilian e-commerce company Ikeda, adding to a growing list of overseas deals inked by the Japanese online retailer.

The latest acquisition marks the Tokyo-based company's entry into South America and a rapidly growing emerging market that is home to 40 percent of Latin America's Internet users.

Rakuten said in a statement it acquired a 75 percent stake in Ikeda, which provides major Brazilian retailers with e-commerce platforms. It did not disclose the investment amount.

"Together, we will share our expertise, and create a unique and powerful approach for merchants to not only take advantage of the exciting ecommerce market in Brazil, but also to expand their reach worldwide," Rakuten founder and chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani said.

Rakuten is Japan's biggest player in Internet retailing, but Mikitani has made it a priority to expand Rakuten's business worldwide. Like other Japanese companies, Rakuten faces an aging, shrinking population at home that is pushing corporate executives to seek growth abroad.

It accelerated its global drive last year, buying U.S. online retailer Buy.com in May 2010 and French Internet PriceMinister S.A. in June. Rakuten also formed joint ventures with Chinese search engine operator Baidu Inc. and PT Global Mediacom in Indonesia.

E-commerce in Brazil is projected to grow 18 percent annually, with total sales hitting $22 billion by 2016, Rakuten said.

Ikeda is based in the Brazilian capital of Sao Paulo and manages e-commerce services for brands including Ri Happy, Le Postiche and Whirlpool Brazil.

In trading Tuesday, Rakuten shares jumped more than 4 percent to 84,500 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, outpacing the benchmark Nikkei 225 index's 0.7 percent gain.

Rakuten announced the deal after financial markets closed.