In its biggest deal to date, Baidu, China’s answer to Google, has signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire app store 91 Wireless for $1.9B. Beijing-based Baidu will pay $1.09B for the majority 57.41% stake that’s held by Hong Kong-listed online gaming company NetDragon, and will acquire the remaining stock from minority shareholders on similar terms. Started in 2007, 91 Wireless develops and operates two leading apps distribution platforms in China as well as other smartphone products. To date, over 10 billion apps have been downloaded through the 91 Smartphone Apps Marketplaces. Baidu is seeking a bigger piece of the growing mobile Internet market. It’s the dominant search engine with more than 80% of desktop searches in China at end March, according to Bloomberg data. However, it lost ground in the mobile search area in the past year after the launch of rival service Qihoo 360. Also last year, rivals Youku and Tudou merged in a $1B deal that created the leader in online TV, and Internet giant Alibaba spent $586M to acquire an 18% stake in Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Baidu’s last major acquisition was its May purchase of online video service PPS for $370M.
China’s Baidu Search Engine To Pay $1.9B For App Store 91 Wireless
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