Rakuten Announces Acquisition of eBook Platform Kobo

On Wednesday, Rakuten, Inc. and Kobo Inc.announced a major deal in the splendid and thriving world of ebooks.

The partners have entered into a definitive agreement that allows Rakuten to acquire 100% of total issued and outstanding shares of Kobo. The deal is valued at $315 million.

Kobo executives say the company will continue to maintain its headquarters in the United States.

Kobo, which was founded two years ago by Indigo – the largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer in Canada – has become a major competitor in the eBook marketplace. Kobo boasts of a long line of eReaders, eReading apps, one of the largest eBook catalogues, 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 unique B2B2C borderless e-commerce business globally, by adding an ecosystem to provide downloadable media products to consumers, starting with eBooks.

“We are very excited about this next step,” says Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten. “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…”

“From a business and cultural perspective this is a perfect match,” added Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis. “We share a common vision of creating a content experience that is both global and social. Rakuten is already one of the world’s largest e-commerce platforms, while Kobo is the most social eBook service on the market and one of the world’s largest eBook stores with over 2.5 million titles. This transaction will greatly strengthen our position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other countries and e-commerce categories.”