Rakuten-Mizuho deal a quick shot in the arm for troubled balance sheet
Rakuten needs money – and lots of it – as its mobile telecommunications arm continues to burn cash. But it is running out of things to sell, while its debt profile is miserable.
There is rarely a dull moment at Japan’s Rakuten Group. Ever since founder Hiroshi Mikitani decided to turn his operation from a nimble and interesting e-commerce group to a full-service mobile telecoms heavyweight, the place has been beset by losses and a desperate need for capital.
The latest attempt to strengthen the balance sheet involves Mizuho increasing its investment in Rakuten Securities, the online brokerage, from 20% to 49%, in a deal worth ¥87 billion ($576 million). Which is just as well, because on the same day Rakuten confirmed the deal, it also said it was withdrawing its listing application for Rakuten Securities.
The problem is that Rakuten, at the group level, needs so much money. It reported third-quarter numbers on Thursday including a loss for the quarter of ¥54.5 billion.
¥769 billion of Rakuten's outstanding debt – nine times more than it just raised from the Mizuho investment – is due in the next two years
That is an improvement on the figure for the same quarter last year, which was a ¥94.2 billion operating loss, but it is also much worse than the ¥36 billion loss the market had been expecting.