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News Roundup: Rakuten Retrenches, Alibaba Buys Stake in Groupon

Two ecommerce powerhouses are making some noteworthy moves – one is contracting in Asia while the other takes a stake in a US daily deals site.

Rakuten Retrenches
Ecommerce giant Rakuten which got its start in Japan has announced plans to close a number of global operations as part of a new strategic focus, according to TechCrunch.

“Japan-headquartered e-commerce firm Rakuten has written down $340 million from a range of businesses, including its Kobo e-reader division and France-based e-commerce site PriceMinister,” it reported.

EcommerceBytes readers may remember that Rakuten acquired US marketplace Buy.com in 2010 for $250 million and rebranded it Rakuten.com Shopping in 2013.

Rakuten acquired French shopping site PriceMinister the same year for 200 million euros. In its announcement last week, Rakuten said the competitive environment of the French eommerce market impacted its cash flow plan, “However, PRICEMINISTER S.A.S has an important position within European E-Commerce, hence we are aiming for sustained growth in its business.”

TechCrunch also noted Rakuten’s plans to close down its ecommerce sites in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia next month, and wrote, “it is looking to offload Tarad.com, the e-commerce company in Thailand that it acquired in 2010, too.”

Alibaba Buys Stake in Groupon
Meanwhile, Alibaba bought a stake in Groupon, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

USA Today characterized the news with the headline, “Alibaba goes where Amazon fears to tread,” recalling Amazon’s troubles with daily deals.

The Christian Science Monitor says Alibaba may want to expand Groupon to China.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.