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Japan e-commerce giant Rakuten cut further into junk by S&P

NEW DELHI: Rakuten Group Inc.’s long-term rating was cut deeper into junk territory by S&P Global Ratings.
The Japanese e-commerce giant was lowered to BB from BB+, according to the rating company.
The group’s nonfinancial unit “is likely to continue to book deeply negative free operating cash flow (FOCF) in the coming year or so because of slow improvement in its mobile business,” S&P said in a statement.
The rating assessor placed the e-commerce company on credit watch in September. Most of Rakuten’s yen bonds had fallen to multi-year lows in recent weeks before rebounding, amid concerns about the company’s earnings and its ability to raise non-debt funds in the near future.
The rating cut underscores Rakuten’s struggle to raise financing as the market seeks further developments on the company’s plan to list its banking subsidiary and brokerage unit. The downgrade was widely expected, as S&P warned in October it may do so if it believed Rakuten could not execute a considerable amount of nondebt financing within 2022.
Billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani’s company posted a net loss of $2 billion in the nine months ended September, compared with 104 billion yen in net losses in the same period previous year as the mobile division weighed heavily on its bottom line.
The firm raised $500 million from two-year dollar notes in November, with a whopping yield of 12%, in a rare junk bond offering in the country. Rakuten Card, its credit card subsidiary, sold 50 billion yen of five-year notes to Japanese retail investors earlier this month.

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