TOKYO and BEIJING, October 19, 2010 -- Rakuten, Inc.(JASDAQ: 4755), Japan’s largest e-commerce company, and Baidu, Inc. (Nasdaq: BIDU), the leading Chinese language Internet search provider, today launched a massive and innovative new online shopping mall in China. Named Lekutian, the e-commerce marketplace is a joint venture. Going live today, Lekutian is believed to be the largest B2B2C online shopping mall in China.
In January, Rakuten and Baidu announced their intention to jointly invest US$50 million over three years to build a new online retail destination designed to provide consumers with high-quality merchandise from well-known Chinese and foreign brands, as well as small-and medium-sized enterprises, at competitive prices. Lekutian will offer a wide range of goods such as apparel, fashion accessories, furniture, home electronics and appliances, digital equipment, baby goods, and cosmetics.
Across Asia, Rakuten has established itself as an e-commerce powerhouse, empowering tens of thousands of merchants to build personal relationships with their customers through its innovative approach of combining shopping and entertainment – called Rakuten Ichiba. To introduce this powerful combination to Chinese consumers, Lekutian will leverage a number of proven marketing programs, such as special shopping “marathons,” a point rewards program and free shipping. Importantly, Rakuten and Baidu have teamed to ensure that Lekutian provides a safe environment for consumers to enjoy Internet shopping without anxiety by strictly screening merchants and monitoring their compliance with initiatives to detect and eliminate counterfeit goods, with use of anti-counterfeit measures and experiences accumulated by Rakuten Group’s PriceMinister in France.
"The relationship between Rakuten and Baidu has been highly collaborative and productive," said Mr. Koichi Nakamura, Lekutian Chairman and CEO, "Through this joint venture, we are building not only the biggest online shopping mall, but we are bringing to market an innovative platform that allows retailers from around the world to create fun and lasting direct relationships with Chinese consumers. This sentiment is also expressed in our name: Lekutian is a combination of the Chinese words for Rakuten, and the word used by Chinese youth to express the English word, “cool.” Le = Happy / Ku = Cool / Tian = Day.”
Over the summer, Rakuten made several aggressive moves as it continues its global expansion. In July, the company acquired PriceMinister, France’s largest e-commerce company. In the same month, Rakuten acquired Buy.com, one of largest e-commerce sites in the U.S. In addition, in May Rakuten announced its entrance into the Indonesian e-commerce marketplace through a joint venture with Global Mediacom. In 2005, Rakuten first established a presence in the U.S. by acquiring LinkShare, a leading performance marketing company. Lekutian is the latest sign of Rakuten’s determination to empower merchants and consumers everywhere by creating safe, secure and entertaining destinations for “borderless e-commerce.”
Baidu, Inc. is the leading Chinese language Internet search provider. As a technology-based media company, Baidu aims to provide the best way for people to find information. In addition to serving individual Internet search users, Baidu provides an effective platform for businesses to reach potential customers. Baidu's ADSs, each of which represents one Class A ordinary share, are currently trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "BIDU."
Rakuten, Inc. has approximately 64 million registered members in Japan and sales in 2009 totaled US$3.2 billion. Its core business “Rakuten Ichiba” is Japan’s largest Internet shopping mall and offers more than 50 million products by over 33,000 merchants, some of whom have turnover of more than US$1 million per month. In addition to its Internet shopping mall, Rakuten, which has more than 6,000 employees, is engaged in other Internet businesses such as travel agency and financial services.