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Rakuten buys Asahi Fire & Marine Insurance from Nomura Holdings for ¥45 billion

Kyodo, JIJI

Rakuten Inc. said Monday it has acquired Asahi Fire & Marine Insurance for ¥45 billion, its first foray into the general insurance market as the firm aims to accelerate growth.

The e-commerce company bought the midsize insurance firm previously owned by Nomura Holdings Inc. for ¥45 billion, turning it into a wholly-owned subsidiary, the company said.

Earlier Monday, Rakuten had revealed its interest in a statement while Nomura Holdings also said it was considering the sale of its insurance unit.

Rakuten will look to develop original insurance products using customer data it has accumulated through e-commerce operations, the company said.

The e-commerce industry has been struggling amid fierce competition with global rivals including U.S. giant Amazon.com Inc.

Rakuten is currently trying to diversify its business to expand its revenue base, and has already entered the life insurance industry.

In December, Rakuten said it will launch a cell phone company with its own wireless spectrum. The move puts it on track to become one of Japan’s major mobile carriers, in competition with the country’s three established telecommunications leaders.

The company is set to provide cheap mobile communications pricing to its e-commerce members. Through its entry into the general insurance market, Rakuten is also likely to introduce preferential insurance products for its e-commerce membership.

Asahi Fire was jointly established in February 1951 by Nomura Securities Co., Daiwa Bank (a precursor of Resona Bank), Dai-Ichi Bank (now a part of Mizuho Bank) and others.

The company provides fire, accident and automobile insurance products for individual and corporate customers. Its total assets stood at ¥368.9 billion as of the end of March last year.