Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Toronto’s Kobo acquired by Japanese firm Rakuten for $315-million

Toronto-based e-publishing startup Kobo Inc. has been purchased by Japanese online shopping giant Rakuten Inc. for US$315-million in cash.

Founded in 2009 after being spun out of Indigo Books & Music Ltd. — which remains the largest single shareholder in the company — Kobo has grown to become one of the most successful e-publishing platforms in North America.

According to a joint statement from the two companies, Kobo will continue to maintain its headquarters, management team and employees in Toronto.

“We are very excited about this next step,” said Rakuten chairman and chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani.

“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 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.”

Kobo chief executive Michael Serbinis called the two companies a “perfect match” from a business and cultural perspective.

“We share a a common vision of creating a content experience that is both global and social,” he said in a statement.

“Rakuten is already one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, while Kobo is the most social eBook service on the market and one of the world’s largest eBook stores with over 2.5 million titles. This transaction will greatly strengthen our position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other countries and e-commerce categories.”

Kobo and Rakuten expect the deal to close sometime in the first quarter of 2012.

The two companies have scheduled a conference call for 5:15 p.m. ET to discuss the transaction.

Written by Matt Hartley,
Financial Post

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