Softbank to Help Foreign Net Firms Enter Japan

TOKYO (03/23/2000) - Softbank Corp., not satisfied with providing the seed money to bring hundreds of local startups into the Japanese Internet market, today announced its Softbank Commerce Corp. unit will begin targeting foreign Internet companies and offering them help to break into the Japanese market.

The company will form a new incubation company, Softbank e-Entry Corp., which will help foreign startups find office space, hire personnel and plan their service launch in Japan. In return for its services, Softbank is looking to take stock options in the startups.

The company is targeting revenues of 5 billion yen (US$47 million) in its third year of business and said it hopes to begin by helping five companies during the company year.

Softbank e-Entry will be established on April 1 with a capital of 300 million yen. Softbank Commerce will own 90 percent of the company with Softbank Technology Corp. holding the remaining 10 percent.

Japan is Asia's largest and most developed Internet market so is often the first place western Internet companies look when they plan an expansion into Asia, although the language barrier and differing business practices often mean companies cannot get anywhere without the help of local partners.

Softbank has already gained experience in bringing foreign companies into Japan by launching local services for companies in which it has invested. These include the local services of Yahoo, E-Trade, Morningstar, Insweb, E-Loan and CyberCash.

Softbank Corp., in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.softbank.co.jp/.

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