Japan's Rakuten to purchase Taiwan's Lamigo Monkeys baseball team

Taoyuan's Lamigo Monkeys sold to e-commerce giant for over US$17 million

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File photo: Lamigo Monkeys players with flag

File photo: Lamigo Monkeys players with flag (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — It was confirmed on Wednesday (Sept. 18), that the Taoyuan-based Lamigo Monkeys baseball team will be purchased by the Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Inc. just over two months after it was announced the team was for sale.

The general manager of the Lamigo Monkeys, Justin Liu (劉玠廷), confirmed rumors of the purchase when he announced a joint press conference for Thursday (Sept. 19). News reports indicate the deal, which was finalized on Tuesday evening (Sept. 17), is worth between US$17 million and US$22.5 million dollars.

Following the announcement by La New Corporation, the previous owner, that the team was going up for sale, speculation began to swirl around the potential buyer. Rumors began in September that the Japanese e-commerce company was interested in the team.

The Rakuten Group’s Chief of Operations in Asia, Watanabe Takashi (渡邉崇), was quoted by the Liberty Times as saying that the company is very optimistic about the purchase. Rakuten, which has been operating in Taiwan for a decade, hopes that the Lamigo Monkeys will raise its profile among the Taiwanese public, said Watanabe.

Monkeys team manager Justin Liu said that he was worried at first that the purchase might result in a move from Taoyuan or a change in staff and line-up. However, after dealing with Rakuten during negotiations, he was relieved that the company had no plans to relocate the team and that it is eager to work with the talented players and staff that have made the franchise as popular as it is, reports LTN.