July 2, 2018 / 6:46 AM / 5 months ago

Japan's Uzabase buys U.S. biz news site Quartz in overseas push

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese media company Uzabase Inc (3966.T) on Monday said it has agreed to buy business news website Quartz from U.S. peer Atlantic Media in a deal valued at $75 million to $110 million as it looks to accelerate its overseas expansion.

The value of the deal will depend on Quartz reaching financial targets, Uzabase said in a statement.

Uzabase owns news aggregator NewsPicks. The website presents links to the day’s top stories from major media outlets together with a user comments area which attracts contributions from business leaders.

Past contributors include Ichiro Kawanabe, chairman of Japan’s largest taxi firm, Nihon Kotsu Co Ltd, and Yusaku Maezawa, chief executive of Start Today Co Ltd (3092.T), which operates online fashion mall Zozotown.

Uzabase launched a U.S. version of NewsPicks last year with News Corp (NWSA.O) subsidiary Dow Jones. Quartz said it will take over Uzabase’s role in that business.

Quartz has grown rapidly since its founding in 2012, tapping into an international and mobile-savvy audience with bite-size business stories. Over 20 million people access Quartz each month, with half its audience outside the U.S.

Uzabase was founded in 2008 by two former bankers and an IT consultant and was listed on the Tokyo stock exchange’s Mothers market for startups in 2016. As well as NewsPicks, it also runs financial data provider Speeda.

Since its launch in 2013, NewsPicks has gained a reputation as an innovative news site. It has convinced 64,000 users to buy subscriptions with its mix of aggregated stories and, increasingly, original content, such as in-depth stories on firms such as Uber Technologies Inc and Mercari Inc (4385.T).

Uzabase’s overseas expansion is the latest by a Japanese media company. In 2015, Nikkei agreed to buy Britain’s Financial Times for $1.3 billion.

Uzabase’s shares closed down 3.5 percent on Monday. Its shares are up 105 percent this year.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing

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