• Kyodo News

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Internet mall operator Rakuten Inc. said Wednesday it has reached an agreement with China’s top Internet search engine, Baidu Inc., to form a joint venture to launch an online mall in China in the second half of this year.

The two firms will invest ¥4.3 billion over three years in the joint venture that will be 51 percent owned by Rakuten and 49 percent by Baidu.

The joint firm will combine Baidu’s strong customer-attracting and marketing capabilities in China with Rakuten’s electronic commerce and shopping mall knowhow to create the largest Chinese Internet mall, Rakuten said.

The Internet mall will allow Chinese companies to provide their products to Internet users in China.

Now that China boasts the world’s largest number of Internet users, at about 384 million, business-to-consumer sales are expected to grow sharply in China following the past expansion in consumer-to-consumer transactions, Rakuten said.

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