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Rakuten Travel Inc. said Tuesday it will acquire a 75 percent stake in Star Tours Japan Co. to branch into the express travel bus business.

Rakuten Travel did not disclose the amount it will pay for the stake. It will make the operator of a long-distance bus service reservation Web site a subsidiary. The deal is to close Thursday.

The company said express buses have gained popularity with students and businesspeople because they are cheaper than planes or express trains and usually have more flexible scheduling.

Rakuten Travel has been offering reservation services for domestic accommodations and overseas airline tickets but not for domestic transportation.

The company also expects to provide a new service that combines lodging and express bus services in Japan.

Rakuten Travel is a wholly owned unit of Rakuten Inc., operator of Japan’s largest online shopping portal.

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