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Japan’s Rakuten to acquire Viber

Deal will increase e-commerce firm’s user base by 150%

Viber remains in the top five most downloaded messaging apps.
Viber remains in the top five most downloaded messaging apps.

Viber Media Inc, providers of the popular messaging app of the same name, is to be acquired by Japanese e-commerce giant, Rakuten Inc for $900m.

Rakuten operates the largest e-commerce platform in Japan, offering a range of services including finance, retail and online video. But in the face of dwindling consumer spending in its home market home, co-founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani is keen to globalise the platform. Acquisition of Cyprus-based Viber is expected to add 300m users to Rakuten’s existing 200m, according to Mikitani.

"This acquisition... will take Rakuten to a different level," he said. "Developing this messaging system on our own would have been impossible.”

Rakuten recently reported an 80% rise in its 2013 operating profit.

Viber remains in the top five most downloaded messaging apps, counting Skype, WhatsApp and WeChat among its rivals.