Rakuten, Leading Japanese E-Commerce Portal, to Acquire LinkShare, Leading U.S. Performance-Based E-Commerce Company - Transaction is Rakuten's first step into U.S. e-commerce market



- Continues Rakuten's international expansion



- LinkShare's patented tracking technology and Fortune 500 retail ties

are key



    TOKYO and NEW YORK, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Rakuten, Inc.
 (JASDAQ: 4755) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement
 to acquire LinkShare Corporation, a privately held New York-based performance-
 based marketing firm, for a cash purchase price of approximately $425 million.
 The acquisition is expected to be completed within four to six weeks.
     Founded in 1997, Rakuten is Japan's most diversified Internet portal, with
 the number one sites in Japan for on-line shopping, travel, golf reservations,
 community and greeting cards.  Rakuten's on-line and Internet-related
 businesses also include shopping via Internet-enabled cell phones, auctions,
 financial services, broadband entertainment and business-to-business services.
 Rakuten, which has one of the most recognized Internet brands in Japan, is
 also the owner of Japanese professional baseball's newest franchise, the
 Rakuten Eagles.
     "LinkShare's performance-based marketing expertise across affiliate,
 search, and e-mail capabilities provides Rakuten with an excellent first step
 to launch our U.S. operations and continue our international expansion," said
 Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten. "We can leverage LinkShare's
 client relationships and technology advantages worldwide, so that LinkShare
 will be able to achieve significant growth in the future."
     Established in 1996, LinkShare Corporation is a leader in performance-
 based marketing solutions, having created the largest network of affiliates of
 any program provider, with over 10 million e-commerce relationships. LinkShare
 has over 500 clients including J.C. Penney, 1-800-Flowers.com, American
 Express, Avon Products and Dell.  LinkShare has been named the New York area's
 fastest growing technology company for two years in a row on the Deloitte &
 Touche Fast 50 list.
     "By partnering with a successful portal with global aspirations, LinkShare
 has positioned itself to take advantage of the increasingly universal nature
 of the Internet and e-commerce," said Stephen D. Messer, Chairman and CEO of
 LinkShare Corporation. "Our merchants and our affiliates will benefit because
 taking the network worldwide can only increase volume, which means growth for
 everyone."
     LinkShare's senior management team, including Mr. Messer and LinkShare's
 President and COO, Heidi Messer, will remain with the company. They will lead
 the continued growth of LinkShare's core businesses and will closely support
 Rakuten's U.S expansion and exploration of potential acquisitions.
     Morgan Stanley advised Rakuten, Inc., and Goldman Sachs advised LinkShare
 in the transaction.
 
     About Rakuten, Inc.
     Rakuten, Inc., is a leading Internet portal in Japan, bringing a wide
 range of services to consumers through its main division companies in
 E-Commerce (EC), Portal and Media, Travel, Financial Services, and
 Professional Sports.
     The EC company provides a general on-line market for consumers, on-line
 auctions, and a place for B2B trade in used goods.  The Portal and Media
 company offers Internet search and marketing services, job search, and
 satellite TV channels.  On-line hotel and international air reservations can
 be done through the Travel company, and the Financial Services company houses
 Rakuten Securities, one of Japan's strongest on-line brokerage services, and
 also provides personal financial services.  Lastly, Rakuten is the proud owner
 of a professional baseball team -- the Rakuten Eagles.
     Rakuten is a public company listed on the JASDAQ with a market
 capitalization as of September 5, 2005 of $9.7 billion.
 
     About LinkShare Corporation
     LinkShare Corporation is a leading provider of technology solutions to
 track, manage, and analyze the performance of sales, marketing, and business
 development initiatives. Combining patented technology, the reach and
 distribution of a robust network, and expert account management services,
 LinkShare empowers clients with the ability to collaborate with partners
 online and develop cost-efficient pay-for-performance campaigns. In 2004,
 approximately 2% of U.S. retail e-commerce, or $1.4 billion, passed through
 the LinkShare network. LinkShare provides the platform, tools, and reporting
 to help clients acquire new customers, increase revenues, drive results, and
 measure success across affiliate, search, and e-mail initiatives. LinkShare
 clients are Fortune 500 and prominent companies doing business online, and
 include J.C. Penney, 1-800-Flowers.com, American Express, Avon Products and
 Dell. LinkShare was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in New York City,
 with offices in San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago.
     LinkShare's investors include Mitsui & Co., Ltd. (Nasdaq:   MITSY), Mitsui &
 Co. (U.S.A), Inc., Internet Capital Group (Nasdaq:   ICGE), and Comcast
 Interactive Capital, an affiliate of Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq:   CMCSK;
 CMCSA). Please visit http://www.linkshare.com for more information.
 
 

SOURCE LinkShare Corporation

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