Baidu Denies Report of Buying into UCweb06-19 18:23 Caijing
Baidu has denied foreign reports that it would buy 49 percent of UCweb, a successful mobile browser startup, for 400 million U.S. dollars, calling them “nothing but hearsay.”
Rumors of a tie-up between China’s leading search engine operator and UCweb could be traced back from last year. Chinese reports said Baidu had rejected an original plan for a 100 percent stake purchase with a consideration of 1 billion U.S. dollars, before it ran into talks with UC to buy 49 percent of its stake for 400 million, which was rejected by UC.
A report carried out by the Wall Street Journal said Monday that UC, who had previously been gung-ho for an IPO, is in preliminary talks with Baidu about a tie-up, quoting an unidentified source. The report said the price tag for UCWeb remains unclear, though.
That came just after a month after UCWeb Chief Executive Yu Yongfu told Dow Jones Newswires in an interview that his company wasn’t entertaining any buyout offers, according to WSJ.
But according to Chinese media, Yu’s “attitude” and “language” have changed somehow. Baidu CEO Robin Li (Li Yanhong), at the firm’s alliance summit on June 1, had dealt a “public blow” to Yu, taking the failure of Netscape’s brower to express his concern over the prospect of mobile brower.
“If the news [that Baidu buys into UC] is confirmed to be true, it will be a defensive purchase by Baidu,” said Hong Bo, a prominent Internet commentator, “A main purpose is to hinder potential purchases by other Internet giants.”
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