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Rakuten to Acquire Viber Internet Messaging App for $900 Million

Rakuten Inc., the Japanese online retailer controlled by billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, is buying the Viber Internet messaging and calling service for $900 million as it moves into social networking.

Viber will provide a distribution channel for Rakuten’s digital products, Mikitani said at a briefing in Tokyo yesterday. Rakuten also hopes to create a game platform on closely held Viber, which has 300 million users of its instant messaging and free Internet phone services.