Rakuten, Inc. and Kobo today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Rakuten intends to acquire Kobo for US$315 million in cash.
Kobo was founded by and spun out of Indigo, the largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer in Canada, in December, 2009. Since that time, Kobo has been trying to become a competitor in the eBook marketplace, with a family of eReaders, eReading apps, eBook catalogues, a social platform and retail partners around the globe.
The acquisition marks a major step forward for Rakuten, one of the world's top 3 e-commerce companies by revenue, as it continues to expand its B2B2C borderless e-commerce business globally, by adding an ecosystem to provide downloadable media products to consumers, starting with eBooks.
Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, commented on the acquisition, "We are very excited about this next step. 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 Buy.com 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."
Upon closing the acquisition, Kobo will continue to maintain its headquarters, management team and employees based in Toronto, Ontario.
The global eBook market is one of the fastest growing segments of the consumer technology industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 36% through 2015. The global content market size is also expected to grow dramatically to reach approximately US$10.6 billion per year by 2015 (estimates exclude China). These figures are based on forecasts by IDC, Yankee, BCG analysis & NRI for Japan.