Rakuten to shut China Net ‘mall’

AFP-JIJI

Japan’s top online retailer, Rakuten Inc., will scrap a joint virtual shopping venture with Chinese Internet giant Baidu, citing cutthroat competition in the rapidly expanding e-commerce sector.

The two firms rolled out a virtual shopping mall called Lekutian in China in October 2010, but the venture has struggled and will be shut down by the end of May, Rakuten said Friday.

“In the face of intensified competition in the Chinese e-commerce industry, Lekutian did not perform in line with our expectations,” Rakuten said.

The project was intended to tap China’s more than 500 million Web users, and the two companies had planned to invest about $50 million (¥4 billion), as part of Rakuten’s plans to expand its global operations.

But Rakuten on Friday said the venture would have little impact on its earnings, though it added that it would continue its other operations in China.