Netcentives Teams With Japanese Merchants

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Netcentives and five Japanese companies have launched a joint venture to put the San Francisco company's loyalty and marketing technology online to a network of Japanese merchants.

The venture, which will do business as Netcentives Japan, includes Dentsu, reported to be the world's largest advertising agency; Itochu, a $114 billion Japanese trading company; and JCB, Japan's largest credit card issuer.

It is slated to go live this spring and generate $50 million in revenues by 2003.

Itochu is taking the biggest stake with a 47.5 percent ownership. Dentsu and JCB will have roughly 15 percent each while Netcentives is taking a 7 percent share. EC-One Inc. and Cyber Communications account for the rest.

"We are going to start a large scale network loyalty program similar to Lycos and others in the U.S. that will have a network of merchants and corporate partners," said West Shell, CEO of Netcentives. "The network will allow consumers to shop online and offline and automatically earn rewards across a network of partners and then expand our offering to include the same rewards for other major Japanese companies."

The new company will launch Netcentives' e-mail platform, now used by 60 U.S. firms, including Hewlett-Packard and Victoria's Secret, when it rolls out in Japan.

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