After China's Alibaba announced it would enter the Indian market, Rakuten, often touted to be Japan's answer to Alibaba, has opened a business office in Bengaluru and is reportedly approaching Amazon and Flipkart execs, asking them to join its ranks.
The report by the Economic Times adds the Japanese e-tail giant, which also owns the popular chat app Viber, opened a development centre in the city in 2014. Declining to comment, a spokesperson told ET: "India is a vibrant growth market and a great source of talent and ideas for us at Rakuten. We are always interested in new global opportunities for growth but we don't have any comments on developments in India at this time."
The reports of Rakuten approaching execs familiar with setting up e-commerce platforms in the country has apparently been confirmed by sources close to the development.
Rakuten's decision to enter the Indian e-tail market could be part of its expansion plans. In 2014, the company acquired Ebates.com, a "cash-back" shopping website, in the U.S. It had also purchased U.S.-based Buy.com in a $250-million all-cash deal in 2010.
The Indian government currently allows 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) in online retail in a marketplace format. Companies like Alibaba and Rakuten are expandig operations to India having identified this opportunity, brought on by the relaxation of FDI norms.
Rakuten, through its presence in several sectors other than online retail, operates in Austria, France, Brazil Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K. and the U.S.