TOKYO (Reuters) – Reigning Asian Champions League holders Kashima Antlers said on Tuesday that Japanese e-commerce company Mercari have purchased a majority stake in the club from founding owners Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.
Mercari said on their website that they have bought 61.6% of the club for 1.6 billion JPY (£12.07 million) in a deal approved by the Japanese Football Association. Nippon Steel will still own 11% of the club.
Kashima, record eight-time winners of Japan’s J.League, were founded in 1947 as the corporate team of Sumitomo Metal Industries, who later merged with Nippon Steel in 2012.
They won their maiden Asian Champions League title last season, defeating Iran’s Persepolis.
Coached by Go Oiwa, Kashima are currently fourth in the 18-team J.League table, five points behind leaders FC Tokyo.
Mercari, founded in 2013, debuted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange last year and are best known for a smartphone app that allows people to trade used items online.
In February, Mercari booked a quarterly loss of 1.1 billion yen after spending heavily to expand in the U.S. market.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Yoko Kono; Editing by Hugh Lawson)