Rakuten to Acquire Kobo

Japanese internet firm Rakuten is to buy eReading firm Kobo for $315m (£197m) 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 then, it has hit the headlines with a family of eReaders, a wide range of eReading apps, one of the largest eBook catalogues, an innovative social platform and retail partners around the globe.  The acquisition expands Rakuten’s offering to include eBooks and eReaders worldwide.

“We are very excited about this next step,” says Rakuten chairman and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani. “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 eCommerce companies.”

Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis adds that from a business and cultural perspective, “this is a perfect match”. He says: “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 eCommerce platforms, while Kobo is the most social eBook service on the market and one of the world’s largest eBook stores, with over 2.5m titles. This transaction will greatly strengthen our position in our current markets and allow us to diversify quickly into other countries and eCommerce categories.”

The global eBook market is one of the fastest growing segments of the consumer technology industry, with a compound annual growth rate of 36 per cent through 2015, while the global content market size is expected to grow to reach approximately $10.6bn per year by 2015, according to forecasts from IDC, Yankee, BCG Analysis and NRI.