Rakuten quits Thailand

Japanese eCommerce giant Rakuten is negotiating to sell its stake in Thailand’s largest eCommerce company Tarad.com to an undisclosed Thai company.

Rakuten Tarad.com founder and MD Pawoot Pongvitayapanu has told the Bangkok Post the deal is expected to be sealed within a few days. Rakuten has a 67 per cent stake in Tarad.com since acquiring it in 2009 for US$35 million, and Pongvitayapanu holds the balance.
Rakuten’s move follows a strategic overhaul of its business in Southeast Asia, Deal Street Asia reports. It had previously focused on business-to-business and business-to-consumer models, but now plans a shift to consumer-to-consumer (C2C) by launching a mobile app, Rakuma.
Shopee, which already has a foothold in Thailand, is one of the main competitors for C2C apps in the region, along with Carousell.
Tarad.com had an accumulated loss of 117 million baht ($3.2 million) in 2013, rising from losses of 35 million baht in 2010 and 5.6 million baht in 2009. Pongvitayapanu says business will continue business as usual as it prepares to implement a strategic shift following the new shareholding structure.
Rakuten earlier announced it is shutting down its eCommerce marketplaces in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore from March 1, laying off about 150 employees. It plans to focus on eCommerce in Japan, where it is a market leader. It will also keep a presence in east Asia, Taiwan and the US.

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