Japan Internet Mall Operator Considers Entering P/C Market

January 4, 2006

Rakuten, one of Japan’s top Internet shopping mall operators, has reportedly announced that it is considering entering the country’s nonlife insurance business to boost its growing financial operations.

A report from Reuters, who cited the Japanese business daily, Nihon Keizai as the source, indicated that a company spokesman had said that Rakuten expected to achieve certain synergies from marketing nonlife insurance online to its Internet service users. He declined to give further details, which he said had not yet been determined.

According to the report, Rakuten plans to establish a P/C insurance joint venture as early as this spring, and was in talks with several nonlife insurers, who were not identified, as a possible partner for the venture. Rakuten would, however, hold a majority stake.

The report notes that Rakuten’s financial business, which includes online broker Rakuten Securities and a credit and consumer loan business, is growing rapidly, and generated over half of the group’s operating profit for the July-September quarter.

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