Online giant Rakuten looks into opening HQ in Catalan capital
FC Barcelona's shirt sponsor set to deepen its links with the city by setting up a European base
Japanese e-commerce giant, Rakuten, Barcelona football club's shirt sponsor, is looking to open a headquarters in the Catalan capital, reports 'El Periódico' newspaper, and confirmed sources from the Catalan business association, Foment del Treball.
In fact, the business association played a key role in setting up the deal, as its president, Josep Sánchez Llibre, acted as a mediator between the multinational and the Catalan government, through the international consultants, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
On Wednesday, Sánchez Llibre talked about the interest of this "very important" group in establishing a base in Barcelona, in an initiative that is sure to involve a multi-million euro investment in the city that will also create jobs.
The location of the online firm's new HQ is not known, but it will serve to represent the company's interests in Europe. According to Foment del Treball, the first direct meeting between top executives and the Catalan government could take place within a fortnight.
Barça's connection with 'Japanese Amazon'
Known as the 'Japanese Amazon', although as well as e-commerce it also provides other online services, such as banking, Rakuten became FC Barcelona's shirt sponsor in 2016 in a four-year deal worth 55 million euros a year to the Catalan football club.
The firm's founder, Hiroshi 'Mickey' Mikitani, is a personal friend of some of the Barcelona players and he has also publicly expressed his "love" for the Catalan capital. The agreement with the football club runs until June 30, 2021, with the option of a one-year extension.
Rakuten has also invested in a number of companies in Spain in the past few years, such as Glovo and Cabify. The company's links with FC Barcelona could also go further, as it is one of the frontrunners in acquiring the future naming rights for the Camp Nou stadium.