Rakuten completes $1bn Ebates acquisition

Japanese firm Rakuten has announced the acquisition of rebate website operator Ebates.com for a reported $1 billion (£620 million).

The company confirmed that it will pay the full amount in cash as part of the deal, and will retain 100 per cent of Ebates' outstanding voting stock.

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San Francisco-based Ebates enables customers to earn cash back when shopping at various online retailers including Amazon, Macy's, Best Buy and others. As Japan's largest e-commerce firm, Rakuten is likely to use the newly acquired company as an entry point into the US market.

Rakuten's founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikiani said the deal had the potential to revolutionise e-commerce.

"This is all about the consumer and we are excited to be able to empower our members with even more ways to enjoy shopping on Rakuten and Ebates. Combined, Rakuten and Ebates will be able to offer our members access to what will undoubtedly be the world's largest selection of products across the broadest range of categories. It will also give our members the greatest incentives to keep shopping."

Generally, analysts have questioned the cost-effectiveness of the deal and whether these large scale acquisitions will eventually turn a profit for the firm, particularly given the stranglehold that Amazon has over the US market. Back in February, Rakuten also paid $1 billion for the mobile messaging app Viper.

Since 2005, Rakuten has been attempting to expand beyond Japan to offer services globally such as online shopping, travel, banking, financing, and more. Other recent acquisitions include Buy.com for $250 million (£155 million) in 2010 and e-book firm Kobo for the same amount in 2012.

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Ebates will continue to operate globally from its San Francisco HQ following the closure of the deal, which is estimated to occur in a month's time.