Japan unicorn Opn buys MerchantE to enter U.S. online payment sector

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Jun Hasegawa, founder and CEO of Opn talks at the company office in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Digital payments processor Opn, a rare Japanese unicorn, or startup worth more than $1 billion, said on Tuesday it had acquired MerchantE from U.S. investment firm Integrum Holdings, making inroads into the U.S. online payment sector.

Opn, whose investors include Toyota Motor Corp’s financial services unit, did not disclose the size of the deal, but a source familiar with the transaction said the U.S. payment processing provider was sold for approximately $400 million.

The deal comes as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government strives to accelerate investments in startups and digital transformation to spur economic growth.

“Startups have been getting a tailwind since the start of Prime Minister Kishida’s administration,” Opn Chief Executive Jun Hasegawa told Reuters.

“Besides financial institutions that participated in the financing (for the deal), Japan Bank for International Cooperation and governmental funds such as Japan Investment Corp gave us strong support this time around,” he said.

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Opn, pronounced “open”, has been offering services mainly in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Thailand. The United States will become the seventh country where it has operations following the acquisition of MerchantE.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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