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Company in focus

Rakuten's $2bn Lyft windfall reveals hidden ambitions

Japan's e-commerce pioneer quietly builds portfolio of tech investments as online mall share falters

WATARU SUZUKI, Nikkei staff writer | Japan

TOKYO -- When Lyft shares start trading in New York on Friday, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the U.S. ride-hailing giant's IPO will be more than 10,000 km away in Tokyo.

Rakuten, the online mall operator known as Japan's answer to Amazon, is rarely thought of as an investor in the same vein as its compatriot SoftBank Group, which has poured billions into ride-hailers, artificial intelligence and myriad technology companies worldwide. Yet Rakuten, too, has quietly amassed stakes in more than 40 tech companies -- Lyft included.

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