Baidu PR, 6/24/11
Chinese online search giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) and travel search engine Qunar jointly announced today a definitive agreement under which Baidu will make a strategic investment of USD 306 mln in Qunar. The investment will make Baidu the majority shareholder of Qunar.
The two parties currently expect that the transaction will close in the third quarter of 2011. After the investment, Qunar will continue to operate as an independent company, while both companies will cooperate in certain areas of online travel search. Baidu plans to finance the investment through obtaining a third-party loan facility.
Founded in 2005, Qunar offers Chinese consumers real-time searches for air and rail tickets, hotels, and tour packages. Qunar also provides travel-related resources such as group-buying deals and user discussion forums. According to independent Chinese research firm iResearch, Qunar ranked number one among travel websites in China as measured by daily unique visitors in March 2011. Qunar covers more than 11,000 air routes and 102,000 hotels worldwide.
According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC)'s 27th China Internet Report issued in January 2011, among China's 457 mln Internet users, search ranked as the most popular application, used by 81.9% of Internet users in China. However, only 7.9% of Internet users in China reported having used online travel booking services. By contrast, in the United States, 66% of Internet users have booked travel services online.