Japan's e-commerce firm Rakuten Luxembourg
The largest Japanese online shopping mall operator Rakuten Inc. said Thursday it will launch a European hub in Luxembourg in March as its first step to expand in the region.
The company hopes to begin services targeting major markets, such as Britain and France, within a few years, said Hiroshi Mikitani, chief executive and chairman of Rakuten.
"We hope to be truly an international Internet company, growing from a Japanese Internet firm," Mikitani told a press conference in Tokyo attended by Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.
The e-commerce subsidiary, Rakuten Europe S.a r.l., will have capital of 100 million yen (938,800 dollars).
Rakuten has been rapidly expanding its operation through mergers and acquisitions since it was established in 1997.
In the year to December 2006, the company achieved sales of 203 billion yen (1.9 billion dollars).
The company has been looking to expand overseas in both developed and emerging markets. In 2005, Rakuten bought New York-based Internet marketing agency LinkShare for 425 million dollars.
Rakuten has also charted a plan to expand in emerging markets in the coming years.
The Internet company boosted its name recognition in 2004 when it established the Rakuten Eagles, Japan's first new professional baseball club in 50 years.
Finance is a major industry in Luxembourg. Juncker, who is also head of the eurozone's finance ministers, is in Japan ahead of a meeting Saturday of the Group of Seven industrial powers' finance chiefs.