TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s biggest online shopping mall, Rakuten, emerged as the largest shareholder in a major TV broadcaster Oct. 13 as burgeoning Internet ventures increasingly target media companies for takeovers.
Rakuten chief executive Hiroshi Mikitani said that his company and affiliates have bought a 15.46% stake in Tokyo Broadcasting System, and that he requested a merger with TBS through setting up a joint holding company.
Rakuten VP Atsushi Kunishige said Rakuten spent ¥88 billion ($770 million) for the stake in TBS.
Mikitani said new kinds of businesses will be possible by bringing together media content and Internet services, such as interactive news broadcasts, or selling products and tickets related to entertainment on the Rakuten site. “I want to create a media group that can compete globally,” he said in a nationally televised news conference.
TBS President Hiroshi Inoue said he was taken aback by Rakuten’s sudden offer.
“I feel the acquisition of so many of our company’s shares in such a short space of time, with no advance warning despite our ongoing business negotiations, is extremely abrupt,” Inoue told a news conference.
“But I can’t deny this is a capitalist society, and that we are a free and publicly listed company,” he said. “We’d like to carefully consider our response.”
Over the decades of modernization, Japan’s stock holdings were relatively stable because banks and other large corporations held stakes in each other to prevent outsiders from breaking into their ranks.
But that is slowly changing in Japan.
Earlier this year, the public was fascinated when Internet startup Livedoor tried to take over a radio station in its attempt to win influence over major media group Fuji Sankei, which includes Fuji Television Network Inc.