Japan’s Rakuten sells matchmaking unit O-net to Polaris Capital

Japan’s e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc has offloaded its entire stake in O-net, one of the country’s largest matchmaking services, to Japanese private equity firm Polaris Capital for an undisclosed amount.

In a disclosure, Rakuten said it has concluded a share transfer agreement with Polaris Capital for the latter’s acquisition of O-net, which was founded in 1980 as OMMG Inc and acquired by the e-commerce giant in 2007.

The sale involves 280,000 shares, or 100 per cent interest, in O-net, with the acquisition expected to be completed by the end of this year, Rakuten said.

O-net, which currently employs about 500 people, is engaged in marriage matchmaking services, event planning and management, publishing, and other businesses related to marriage service. As of last year, it had 46,000 members.

“Unlike many online dating services, O-net imposes significant hurdles for membership, including the need to submit proof of any marriage history or lack thereof,” Rakuten said in a blog post.

Membership is not cheap; O-net charges members as much as ¥106,000 for the privilege of joining the network.

The acquisition of matchmaking site O-net comes at a time when marriages in Japan are on a decline. According to data from the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, approximately 607,000 couples tied the knot in 2017, a decline by about 13,000 from the same time frame in 2016.

Last year saw the fifth straight annual decline and the lowest number of people getting married since the end of World War II. The ministry attributed the decline in the number of marriage to the decreasing population of young adults in the country.

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.