Web search leader Google Inc. said that it may not raise its small stake in China’s top search engine Baidu.com, even as competition rises in the fast growing sector.
Google owns 2.6 percent of Baidu, and was believed to be seeking to boost its stake prior to the Chinese company’s hugely successful initial public offering in August.
We have a very small stake in the company, which is a strategic investment that was made a while back, but as far as I know there aren’t any plans beyond that, Daniel Alegre, the director of international Websearch & Syndication, told reporters on the sidelines of a conference.
The comments come after Baidu’s chief executive said last month that the company planned to remain independent, and was not interested in finding a major foreign investor.
In contrast, rival Yahoo Inc. paid $1 billion for 40 percent of Chinese Web auctioneer Alibaba.com earlier this year, taking on eBay and Baidu.com as it extends its reach in the world’s second-biggest Internet market.
Google for its part hired former Microsoft Inc. executive Li Kai fu and Johnny Chou, an executive at former local telecoms heavyweight UTStarcom, to spearhead its China operations.
We are focused on building products that are tailored to the Chinese market and tapping into the tremendous engineering pool that China has, said Google’s Alegre.
With Internet users expected to hit 120 million by the end of this year, China could surpass the United States in five years.
Google also has partnerships with local Internet companies like NetEase.com Inc.