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E-commerce giant Rakuten ties up with restaurant finder Gurunavi

This Dec. 18, 2017 file photo shows the head office of Rakuten Inc. in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. said Monday it has reached a capital alliance agreement with restaurant search business Gurunavi Inc., as it looks to strengthen its foothold in the growing online eatery reservation market.

Under the deal, Rakuten will buy Gurunavi shares worth 4 billion yen ($36 million), currently held by Gurunavi Chairman Hisao Taki, and acquire a stake of 9.6 percent. The transaction is set to be completed on Aug. 22.

Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry data show the market size of online restaurant reservation services in Japan stood at 450.2 billion yen in 2017, up 36.8 percent from the previous year.

In May, e-commerce company Yahoo Japan Corp. also announced a business tie-up with restaurant search site operator Retty Inc.

Through the alliance, Rakuten hopes to develop new services and products using customer data collected by Gurunavi. The two companies' customer loyalty programs will also be gradually integrated to enhance services for each other's customers and member stores, Rakuten said.

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