Japanese tech giant Rakuten to raise $2.2 billion by issuing new shares to Walmart, Tencent and Japan Post

Key Points
  • Rakuten said it will issue 211,656,500 shares at 1,145 Japanese yen ($10.5) per share.
  • Founded in 1997, Rakuten has over 70 businesses and 1.4 billion members worldwide.
  • Its e-commerce site is one of the most popular in Japan but the company's market value is a fraction of Amazon's.

In this article

Rakuten Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hiroshi Mikitani delivers a speech during the Rakuten Optimism 2019 on July 31, 2019 in Yokohama. Japan.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Japanese tech giant Rakuten is planning to raise $2.2 billion to help it compete with its U.S. rivals. 

The company announced Friday that it will issue 211,656,500 shares at 1,145 Japanese yen ($10.5) per share.

National post service Japan Post is expected to buy 131,004,000 shares for an 8.3% stake, Chinese internet firm Tencent is expected to take 57,382,900 for a 3.6% stake, and U.S. retailer Walmart is expected to take 14,536,000 shares for a 0.9% stake.

The payment date will be between Mar. 29 and Apr. 30.

Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten's founder, chairman and CEO, said in a statement: "These new investments in Rakuten indicate both high expectations for the growth and impact of the Rakuten ecosystem with the mobile service at its core, as well as great potential for further collaboration with leading companies from the world's three leading economies."

Founded in 1997, Rakuten has over 70 businesses and 1.4 billion members worldwide. Rakuten Ichiba is one of the largest e-commerce sites in Japan but Rakuten's market value stands at $16.5 billion. Amazon meanwhile is valued at over $1.5 trillion.

Rakuten is also well known for its video streaming service Rakuten TV. Over the last few years, Rakuten has acquired a number of companies including messaging app Viber and e-book platform Kobo.

At a news conference on Friday, Mikitani reportedly said Rakuten faces the extremely powerful tech forces led by GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple). 

Rakuten and Japan Post are planning to partner in logistics, mobile and payments businesses, while there is also the possibility of partnerships with Tencent.

"The new potential for partnering with Tencent opens up a broad portfolio of opportunities, from digital entertainment, including online games, to e-commerce," said Mikitani in a statement. "We're also excited to have Walmart's financial commitment as they continue to invest in the future of retail."

Martin Lau, executive director and president of Tencent, said in a statement: "Rakuten has built a vibrant ecosystem through its membership and loyalty program, extending its unrivalled strength from e-commerce to FinTech and digital content."

"Tencent shares Rakuten's aspiration of creating value through innovation and empowerment for users and partners. We are excited to invest in Rakuten, supporting its evolution into a global innovation leader. We look forward to pursuing strategic cooperation across activities including digital entertainment and e-commerce, creating value for users and building the Internet ecosystem together."

Shares of Rakuten climbed more than 8% to 1,142 Japanese yen on the Tokyo market on Friday.