Business / Corporate

Rakuten to sell U.S. e-book distribution unit OverDrive

JIJI

Major cybermall operator Rakuten Inc. plans to sell OverDrive Holdings Inc., a wholly owned U.S. unit that provides electronic book distribution services.

Rakuten announced Wednesday that it will sell all outstanding shares of the Ohio-based subsidiary, which provides e-books to libraries and educational institutions, to a U.S. investment fund at the end of January next year.

The Japanese company did not disclose the value of the deal, but said it plans to book some ¥40 billion in proceeds from the sale in January-March 2020.

In 2015, Rakuten acquired OverDrive for approximately ¥50 billion. It intended to have Rakuten Kobo Inc., a unit selling e-books to individuals, and OverDrive collaborate, but apparently failed to achieve significant progress on the coordination effort.

Rakuten said it decided on the sale as part of its efforts to optimize the allocation of the Rakuten group’s management resources.