Japan's Rakuten Group to start preparing for bank unit IPO

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Rakuten is pictured at the headquarters of Rakuten in Tokyo, Japan, May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Sam Nussey/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japanese mobile phone services and online shopping mall operator Rakuten Group Inc said it will start preparing for an initial public offering of the group’s online banking unit, as it looks to raise funds from its fintech business.

The planned listing will allow Rakuten Bank Ltd, which had 186.8 billion yen ($1.69 billion) in net assets as of March, to make swift management decisions and take various growth and financial strategies, Rakuten said in a statement on Thursday.

Rakuten is under pressure on multiple fronts as it spends on logistics to compete with Amazon.com and as it expands low cost wireless services in the face of cash-rich incumbents.

One of Japan’s top homegrown internet firms increasingly harried by foreign tech giants, Rakuten shook up the country’s staid finance industry by simplifying credit card applications.

Details of the IPO size or the valuation of Rakuten Bank were not immediately available.

“If the equity funding proceeds as planned in the next 12 months or so, we believe Rakuten can mitigate a souring of its finances as a result of upfront investments in its mobile unit,” Makiko Yoshimura, analyst at S&P Global Ratings, said in a report.

($1 = 110.7420 yen)

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