Tokyo (AFP)

Yahoo Japan, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group, announced on Thursday a takeover bid for Zozo, a Japanese online retail group specializing in fashion, which it wants to buy 50.1% for some 400 billion yen (3 , 36 billion euros).

Yahoo Japan intends to acquire more than 152.9 million Zozo shares at a unit price of 2,620 yen, according to a SoftBank Group press release, which represents a 21% premium over the closing price of the merchant site on Wednesday.

The founder and until then Zozo's largest shareholder, the whimsical Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, agreed to sell the majority of his shares (30.37%) to keep only 6.39% and left Thursday his duties as president of the company, says SoftBank Group.

The deal will boost Yahoo Japan's online commerce business, which is trying to fight big names such as Amazon and Rakuten. With Zozotown, launched in 2004, Zozo is one of Japan's leading online apparel retailers.

In a tweet, Yusaku Maezawa said he wanted to take "a new path" and announced a press conference later in the day.

Known for his eccentricities, this 43-year-old entrepreneur is a killer in the Japanese business landscape, usually very muffled.

Last year, Maezawa booked a private flight around the moon aboard a rocket still under development by SpaceX, Elon Musk's company, which should take place in 2023 at the earliest.

Also a lover of contemporary art - he is also known for having offered a work of Jean-Michel Basquiat for a record $ 110.5 million in 2017 - Mr. Maezawa had indicated that he intended to invite several artists in his future space journey.

In early 2019, he also had fun breaking the record of the most shared tweet in history, promising money to some of his "followers" (subscribers) drawn.

After announcing its takeover bid, Yahoo Japan gained 2.68% to 306 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange around 11:00 am (0200 GMT), while Zozo jumped 14.87% to 2.488 yen at the same time. After also starting the session up, SoftBank Group continued to decline (-0.83% to 4,638 yen).

The operation is "a plus for Yahoo Japan" and also for Zozo, which will get "the financial support that (the company, Ed) needs for its new business and expansion abroad," said Mitsushige Akino, a manager of Ichiyoshi Asset Management quoted by the Bloomberg agency.

© 2019 AFP