Rakuten acquires messaging app Viber for £540m

By Peter Gothard
14 Feb 2014 View Comments
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The Japanese owner of Play.com, Rakuten, has acquired mobile messaging app Viber for $900m (£540m).

The company wants to transform the platform – which currently has 300 million users – into its personal 'consumer engagement platform'. Rakuten has essentially paid $3 for each registered Viber user.

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Rakuten also bought Kindle-like e-book company Kobo in 2011, and it seems the company now believes it has the leverage to begin expanding its digital content services further into emerging markets.

Rakuten has suggested that one use for Viber would be to use its instant message service to contact and communicate with online stores while making purchasing decisions.

"This acquisition is a totally new strategy that will take Rakuten to a different level," said Rakuten chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani.

"Developing this messaging system on our own would have been impossible."

Viber founder and CEO Talmon Marco said the combination of Rakuten and Viber "presents an amazing opportunity for Viber to enhance our rapid user growth in both existing and new markets".

"Sharing similar aspirations with Rakuten, our vision is to be the world's number one communications platform, and our combination with Rakuten is an important step in that direction," he added.

Rakuten has reported a 2013 net profit double that of 2012's, equalling ¥43.5bn (£255m).

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