Chinese search engine giant Baidu has purchased a controlling stake in Brazilian e-commerce firm Peixe Urbano, whose sites alerts users to the best bargains in the online marketplace.
Analysts see it as Baidu’s first step towards expansion in Brazil, where it has only just begun operating. Peixe Urbano’s offerings include mobile technology, location-based services, search and customization, but its main job is connecting consumers with merchants in the entertainment and travel industries.
Peixe Urbano’s management team, led by co-founder and CEO Julio Vasconcellos, will continue to operate independently, Baidu stated in a press release.
The acquisition is a clear sign of the Chinese firm’s growing ambition to penetrate Brazil’s online market. Baidu opened its Brazilian office only this month, though it launched the Portuguese version of its site two years ago.
Brazil’s search engine market is heavily dominated by Google. Analysts say winning the hearts of Brazilian Internet users is a daunting task for aidu and might require it to acquire several more companies in the years to come.
Baidu is talking of allying with local start-ups and investing up to US$50 million to widen its market share in Latin America’s biggest economy.
Brazilians are fond of e-commerce and social networking sites and, therefore, prospective start-ups in these sectors may become Baidu’s targets. Brazil’s e-commerce market alone is projected to grow an average 18% annually through 2016.
Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Peixe Urbano has more than 20 million customers and more than 30,000 companies as merchant partners. It has reportedly sold more than 30 million discount vouchers to consumers since 2010.