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Trading app Mercari raises US$1.2 billion for global expansion

Japanese used-goods trading app Mercari is seeking to raise up to US$1.2 billion via an IPO to fund overseas expansion.

Mercari, founded in 2013, has enjoyed solid success in its home market, but profitability in the US and UK have so far proved elusive.

The company will list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange tomorrow (June 19), its shares issued at 3000-yen each, about US$27.30.

In just five years, Mercari (which is Latin for ‘to trade’) has become a household name, making it easy for individuals to buy and sell goods. But it has attracted criticism for allowing trade of stolen goods, leading to a recent tightening of monitoring and customer controls. Users are buying and selling items as diverse as mobile phones, books, clothes and even toilet-paper tubes, according to local media sources.

Mercari is profitable in Japan, where the app has been downloaded 71 million times, but ongoing losses in the US dragged the company to a net loss of ¥4.3 billion (US$38.9 million) in the 12 months to June last year.

“We can’t be successful globally without success in the US,” founder and CEO Shintaro Yamada told Reuters in April. “If a service is accepted in the US, it tends to become universal.”

In the US, Mercari wants to take on local platform eBay.

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