Rakuten has acquired Fablic, provider of C2C marketplace app, Fril, reports Japan Today.

The undisclosed, 100% stake has made Rakuten the sole owner of the Japanese app. Japan is seeing an increase in popularity in C2C marketplace platforms that make it possible to buy and sell speedily and at predetermined prices, as well as a transition away from auction services that involve a bidding process.

Fril launched in 2012 as Japan’s first C2C marketplace mobile app, and has cumulative downloads of the app now exceeding 5 million. 

In November 2014, Rakuten also launched Rakuma, a C2C marketplace app for use mainly on smartphones, and this is also seeing a rapid expansion in gross merchandise sales. Rakuten in Japan has considerably been performing better than its Southeast Asian branches, as the company has shut down operations in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The combined monthly GMS of the two companies’ services already exceed several billion yen. The addition of Fril will further accelerate Rakuten’s dominance of the C2C market in Japan.

Rakuten is currently planning to allow users to use their Rakuten member ID to log into Fril, and implement point campaigns utilizing Rakuten Super Points. These features are already integral to the Rakuma platform. This will contribute to enhanced convenience for Fril users and broaden Rakuten Group’s overall user base.

By exploring ways to collaborate and enhancing on each other’s strengths, the addition of Fril into Rakuen’s ecosystem should further innovate the C2C landscape in Japan.

A version of this appeared in Japan Today on September 5. Read the full version here.

SET-listed VGI Global Media Plc, a provider of media space for skytrains, has announced its acquisition of Rabbit Card from BTS Group, reports The Bangkok Post.

The acquisition was for $56 million (1.95 billion baht), an initiative to strengthen its media service business.

The VGI board approved the purchase of a 90% stake in Bangkok Smartcard System Co (BSS) and 90% in BSS Holdings, which operates the Rabbit Card business.

The transaction is expected to be completed by March 31 this year.

VGI’s chief executive Surachet Bamrungsuk said, “the acquisition will allow VGI to enter the e-payment business. The Rabbit Card is a payment tool for travelling on the skytrain and also allows users to buy food and beverage.”

VGI will acquire an e-wallet business through Rabbit Line Pay, a function embedded in the most popular instant messaging application Line, which boasts 33 million users. In the future, VGI will allow its users to buy products and services, as well as pay skytrain fares online.

The Rabbit Card business also entails other online businesses such as Rabbit Internet, including Rabbit Daily, which provides lifestyle content through a web portal. There is also Rabbit Finance, an online financial products comparison website.

VGI will leverage Rabbit’s various platforms so VGI will become a data centric media hypermarket to assist the company in utilizing data analytic capabilities.

The acquisition is expected to widen VGI’s consumer base to 25 million people a day. The Rabbit Card database has more than 7.2 million users, offering opportunities to conduct data analytics to support VGI’s sales, media production and planning.

A version of this appeared in The Bangkok Post on August 24. Read the full version here

Rocket Internet’s food delivery startup Foodpanda has announced that it is acquiring local competitor, Hungerstation in Saudi Arabia, reports Tech in Asia.

The terms of the acquisition are not disclosed.

Foodpanda operates in Saudi Arabia under the ‘Hellofood’ name, and has been active since 2013. Hungerstation, which was founded in 2012, will continue to operate as a standalone site.

The combined business will cater to an inventory of over 2,000 restaurants spread across 30 cities in the country. It claims its entire Middle Eastern business will now turn profitable as a result of the acquisition.

Just last month, Foodpanda has announced that it was on its way to profitability in Southeast Asia, namely with thriving business in Singapore.

“Along with our other businesses in the Middle East, Hungerstation and Hellofood consolidate our market leadership in the region and we are proud to have achieved overall profitability just three years after launch,” says Raf Wenzel, CEO of Foodpanda.

Foodpanda’s latest funding round came in March 2015, when it received $110 million in funding. The startup also went on an acquisition spree in the same year, where it acquired rival sites in seven countries. It seems that Foodpanda is continuing the move quickly through acquisition, this time targeting local competitors in the Middle East.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on August 9. Read the full version here.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is set to acquire two-year-old online retailer Jet.com in what appears to be the largest-ever acquisition of an ecommerce company reports Recode. This is according to multiple sources familiar with the transaction.

Walmart-Jet.com acquisition details

The deal is expected to value Jet at approximately $3 billion. Some senior Jet executives, including co-founder and CEO Marc Lore, will have incentive bonuses on top of that – Lore stands to make as much as $750 million in the deal as he owns 25%.

Lore will continue to run Jet as well as Walmart’s US ecommerce operations after the acquisition closes.

Why is Walmart buying Jet?

The Jet acquisition is acknowledgement by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon that his company needs outside help if it’s going to ever close the giant gap with Amazon.

Walmart’s $14 billion in annual ecommerce sales is a fraction of Amazon’s $99 billion and is growing slower than the industry average.

Its growth rate has decelerated for five consecutive quarters.

Jet sells more than 12 million products ranging from TVs to toys to cereal, and even milk and other fresh groceries in some markets. A little less than a third of its sales volume comes from items that Jet stores in its own warehouses and sells directly to customers, an exec recently said.

Even with Walmart acquiring the strong Jet leadership team and proprietary technology, the deal still will be viewed as a rich, if not desperate one, by some industry observers.

A version of this article appeared in Recode on August 7. Read the full version here.

The Flipkart deal to acquire Jabong was completed in only three days, reports Tech In Asia.

The race was on because Jabong was in the late stages of talks with Flipkart arch-rival Snapdeal.

Flipkart moved quickly to steal Jabong from Snapdeal, who desperately wanted to gain market share in the fashion ecommerce segment.

“Generally, a deal of this size takes three to six months from due diligence to closure. Wrapping it up in 72 hours was a challenge,” comments Vinay Joy, Associate partner at Khaitan & Co.

In the case of Flipkart and Jabong, Vinay and his team understood the risks and proceeded with documentation on all levels. It’s possible that the Jabong team was already in the process to provide the due diligence documents to other parties interested in buying it.

An agreement can be worked upon and signed within three days but a legal and financial due diligence of a company already mixed in controversies is not possible within that time frame.

Jabong murky history

Jabong’s prime backer was Rocket Internet. The stake was later sold to Global Fashion Group, in which the latter owns a stake, along with lead investor Kinnevik AB. Rocket Internet was unhappy with the fact that GoJavas, a logistics company incubated inside Jabong and now a separate company valued more than Jabong, has no shareholding in it.  This eventually led to an audit at Jabong.

We have a high bar when it comes to governance, regulations and compliance. Unless a company can clear that bar, we have issues. – Kunal Bahl, CEO of Snapdeal.

Out of all the mergers this year, the acquisition of Jabong is probably the most controversial, and far from being smooth. Flipkart’s lawyer will be conducting post-due diligence even after the deal is inked.

A version of this appeared in Tech In Asia on July 28. Read the full version here.