Japanese Internet Firm Grabs Broadcaster Stake

17 October 2005

Another upstart internet company is making waves in the increasingly choppy waters of Japanese business deals.

In the wake of Livedoor's battle with Fuji Television Network over control of Nippon Broadcasting System [WAMN: 19-April-05], online shopping portal Rakuten has stealthily bought a 15.5% slice of the nation's third largest TV company Tokyo Broadcasting System.

Proclaims Rakuten president Hiroshi Mikitani: "We want to create a world class media group originating in Japan."

Which came as a shock to the broadcaster, which reacted with some alarm to its newest and largest shareholder - claiming it had no previous knowledge of Rakuten's plans.

The internet company paid ¥88 billion ($769m; €644; £439) for its stake in TBS. Rakuten avers its move is not the initial salvo in a takeover battle; rather it wishes to form a holding company with the broadcaster to realise its media empire vision.

says a wary TBS president, Hiroshi Inoue: "The acquisition of our shares was very abrupt, but that doesn't mean we are seeing it as a hostile bid. We are carefully considering our response."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online and Japan Today; additional content by WARC staff