Rakuten sign up as FC Barcelona’s new main global partner

Rakuten sign up as FC Barcelona’s new main global partner

The Japanese company will appear on the front of the team’s shirt and become the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner for the next four seasons, starting 1 July 2017

FC Barcelona and Rakuten Inc., a dynamic global company leading the way in e-commerce, communications, digital content and FinTech services for consumers and businesses around the world, have reached an agreement for the Japanese company to become the main global sponsor of the Club and to appear on the front of the first team’s jersey for the next four seasons, beginning in 2017/18.

The agreement was formalized today, Wednesday, in a ceremony held at the Auditorium 1899 in the presence of the President of FC Barcelona, Josep Maria Bartomeu, Manel Arroyo, the Vice President responsible for Marketing and Media of FC Barcelona, and the Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Hiroshi Mikitani. The partnership agreement links the Club with Rakuten from the 2017/18 season until the 2020/21 season, with the option of a further one-year extension. As a result of this agreement, FC Barcelona will annually receive €55m plus title incentives for the duration of the four-year contract. This agreement will be ratified at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Club Members to be held in the near future.

Rakuten, Inc. (TSE: 4755) is one of the world's leading internet services companies. Founded in Japan in 1997, it offers a wide variety of services for consumers and businesses with a focus on e-commerce, finance, and digital content. Since 2012, Rakuten has been ranked among the world’s ‘Top 20 Most Innovative Companies’ in Forbes magazine’s annual list. With its vision of being a global innovation company, Rakuten is continually expanding worldwide.

Given their strong innovation credentials, Rakuten will be FCB’s first Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner. Rakuten will support the players and delight FC Barcelona fans and members with new initiatives showcasing the company’s technological prowess in messaging, drones, e-commerce, AI and much more. These initiatives will draw on Rakuten’s global resources. In Europe, the Japanese business is present in companies such as Viber, the mobile messaging and calling app; Wuaki, the video-streaming service established in Barcelona and now available in 12 countries; PriceMinister, one of France’s leading e-commerce sites; and Kobo, a global digital e-reading service now available in 12 European countries. Across the globe, Rakuten companies in Japan and the US include the Rakuten Ichiba e-commerce marketplace, the US-based shopping cashback service Ebates, and Overdrive, a distributor of eBooks to libraries. These brands will also provide invaluable support to the partnership.

Rakuten company Viber, the global mobile messaging and calling app, will also become FC Barcelona’s Official Communications Channel.

Statements by Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona

"We are delighted with our agreement with Rakuten, a global brand in innovation whose experience and know-how in the fields of big data, communications and e-commerce will contribute to the future success of FC Barcelona”.

“This agreement puts us at the forefront of sports club sponsorships, which has always been an objective for the current Board of Directors. We hope this partnership between Rakuten and FC Barcelona brings unparalleled sporting and commercial success, and helps the club achieve its goal of being a reference point worldwide".

Statements by Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten Inc.:

“This partnership opportunity is set to power our global brand strategy and, more importantly, as the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner, we are looking to bring the collective power of our brands like Viber, Wuaki, Ebates, Kobo, PriceMinister to build a cool innovation framework that will deliver innovative solutions and services to fans, members and players”.

“I am very excited about joining the Barça community as I have personally followed the team for decades and have long admired their unique playing style and professionalism, their commitment to success and their culture of nurturing young talent – all values we share at Rakuten”.

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