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

O-net Rakuten

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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