(Bloomberg)—Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani’s Rakuten Inc. is in talks to buy U.S. website operator Ebates Shopping.com Inc., as the owner of Japan’s largest online mall expands overseas.
Rakuten is negotiating the acquisition, it said in a statement on Sept. 6, without providing further details. The Tokyo-based company may pay about 100 billion yen, or $950 million, for Ebates, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named as the details of the talks are private.
The deal follows Rakuten’s $900 million acquisition of Internet messaging and calling service Viber in March as Chairman Mikitani’s company looks outside Japan for growth. It would give Rakuten access to Ebates services including a cash- back program for customers who shop at the U.S. company’s partner websites, the person familiar with the negotiations said.
San Francisco-based Ebates didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry after regular business hours.
Rakuten said in June it’s open to more large-scale acquisitions after strengthening the company’s financing by issuing its first public bonds, selling 30 billion yen of three- year notes.
The company is accelerating deals inside and outside Japan and said in July it agreed to acquire an 18 percent stake in a Japanese low-cost airline venture with AirAsia Bhd. It also bought Canadian e-book company Kobo Inc. in 2012 and paid $250 million for U.S. shopping website Buy.com in 2010.
Ebates was founded in 1998. The San Francisco-based company offers discounts and rebates for more than 1,700 online stores, including Amazon.com Inc., Macy’s Inc. and Home Depot Inc. Members get paid back a percentage of every purchase they make each quarter.
Rakuten currently has a loyalty program that lets customers earn points when they shop and use them as discounts for future purchases.