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Rakuten announces Play.com deal

by Stuart Wilson, Thursday 22 September 2011

Japanese e-commerce outfit Rakuten has announced that it will snap up Jersey-based e-retailer Play.com for US$38.6m cash. The definitive agreement to purchase Play.com has been approved by Rakuten’s board of directors. Rakuten claims that the deal marks a significant step in its ingoing European and global expansion plan.

This is Rakuten’s third acquisition in Europe, following the purchase of French e-commerce outfit PriceMinister in 2010 and German online shopping mall Tradoria in July 2011. Rakuten now operates e-commerce businesses in ten countries globally, including Japan.

Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO at Rakuten, said: “The UK market is one of Europe’s largest and most mature e-commerce markets. Play.com is not only a pioneer in the market, but also one of the UK’s most successful e-commerce businesses.”

“We aim to leverage our e-commerce strength and experience to further expand and develop Play.com’s business model and channel its loyal user base, merchants, and deep product offerings into Rakuten’s global e-commerce network,” Mikitani added.

The UK e-commerce market is expected to be worth US$58 billion per annum by 2014, according to the latest market research. Rakuten will purchase 100% of outstanding Play.com stock with the deal expected to close in early October 2011.

Play.com is one of the largest UK online retailers with 14 million registered users and 7 million listed products. The company sells a wide range of products including music, books, electronics, clothing and accessories. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Jersey, Play.com has around 500 staff.

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