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Rakuten acquires Viber for USD 900 million

  • Rakuten will acquire Viber for a total consideration of USD 900 million
  • Rakuten's steps in augmentings its presence in the digital content space includes earlier acquisitions such as Kobo, Wuaki.tv and Viki
  • Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform: Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten

Rakuten is acquiring the messaging and VoIP company, Viber. Rakuten will acquire Viber for a total consideration of USD 900 million. The acquisition represents another step for Rakuten into the digital content space, following its acquisitions of Kobo, Wuaki.tv and Viki.

As people continue to shift from traditional content and communications platforms to mobile applications, Viber with a global user base of 300 million registered users, complements Rakuten’s strategy in the digital space. The acquisition will enable Rakuten to penetrate new markets with multiple digital content offerings in combination with its e-commerce and financial services platforms.

Viber’s approach to messaging and high quality VoIP services is a perfect marriage with Rakuten’s digital content offerings and its ‘Shopping is Entertainment’ philosophy laying the foundation for a comprehensive daily online platform. The combination also unlocks massive new potential markets for Viber through Rakuten Group’s roughly 225 million global members.

Rakuten Chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, commented, “I am tremendously excited to welcome Viber to the Rakuten family. Viber delivers the most consistently high quality and convenient messaging and VoIP experience available. Additionally, Viber has introduced a great sticker market and has tremendous potential as a gaming platform. Simply put, Viber understands how people actually want to engage and have built the only service that truly delivers on all fronts. This makes Viber the ideal total consumer engagement platform for Rakuten as we seek to bring our deep understanding of the consumer to vast new audiences through our dynamic ecosystem of Internet Services.”

“Rakuten is one of the world’s most important Internet companies. It is truly dominant in its home market of Japan and has been rapidly expanding globally. This combination 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 No.1 communications platform and our combination with Rakuten is an important step in that direction,” added Viber CEO and Founder, Talmon Marco.

Viber’s multi-platform application adoption is undeniably impressive. The business has demonstrated significant growth reaching 300 million registered users, growing over 120% in 2013.

Rakuten began its march into global digital content in 2012 with the acquisition of Kobo Inc., an eReading service that now offers 4 million eBooks, magazines and newspapers to customers in 190 countries. In 2012, Rakuten acquired Wuaki.tv, an Europe-based video-on-demand and streaming service, which recently began its international expansion beyond Spain by offering customers in the UK its movie titles catalogue and hybrid payment model. More recently, in September 2013, Rakuten acquired borderless digital content platform, Viki, which now reaches 65% of its 30 million monthly users through mobile devices.

Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as sole financial advisor to Viber. White & Case LLP acted as sole legal advisor to Viber.

Noor Fathima Warsia

A veteran journalist in the Indian marketing, media and advertising fraternity, Noor Fathima Warsia took on the role of Group Editor -– APAC for Digital Market Asia in May 2013. Noor has focussed on tracking trends and developments in the Indian media industry.