Japan's Rakuten Ups Stake in TBS

28 October 2005

Japan's largest online shopping portal Rakuten is ramping-up the takeover pressure on television company Tokyo Broadcasting System.

Rakuten has increased its stake in TBS to 19%, at a cost of around ¥111 billion ($949m; €785m; £543m); while chairman/ceo Hiroshi Mikitani smoothly assures anyone who will listen that he simply wants to "integrate" with the broadcaster to create a "world-class" media empire.

TBS president Hiroshi Inoue is not impressed, however, and describes the latest moves as a "coercive tactic".

Mikitani is keen to ally with TBS to add internet TV programming to his already extensive Rakuten offering. His vision is to give his 35 million customers points for watching TBS programs and commercials, while allowing TBS viewers to communicate with each other through the site.

He recently said: "I think people will start watching TV programs over the internet. It's going to be a very, very big market."

TBS executives are still discussing Rakuten's proposal but insiders say they will find it difficult to accept.

Meanwhile into the frame has ridden an unlikely white knight in the form of another internet upstart, Livedoor, [WAMN: 25-Oct-05] which earlier this year went through its own takeover tussle [WAMN: 19-April-05].

Livedoor has offered, if requested, to buy TBS shares to help defend the network, should it become the object of a hostile bid. It has also offered to provide financial advice and introduce TBS to legal specialists.

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