China's Baidu is considering investing in Indian's Zomato, BookMyShow, and BigBasket

By Staff Reporter

Jan 17, 2016 05:10 AM EST

China's top online search engine Baidu is interested in investing in Indian e-commerce start-ups including restaurant search provider Zomato, online ticketing service BookMyShow and grocery delivery platform BigBasket. Further possible investment amounts and the timeline is yet to be announced.

Baidu's spokesman said via e-mail to Reuters that the Indian market represents an enormous opportunity for the company to connect more people with their services. "We plan to put more resources there in the future," the spokesman added.

The move is considered promising, considering that India's online population rose to more than 400 million out of its 1.3 billion total population in 2015. That number surpasses the online population in the United States and any other country in the world, except for China itself, according to Financial Times. It's also been estimated that the number will top 600 million by 2020. Consequently, more and more people will start to shop online.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch also estimates that the e-commerce market could grow globally. The value of goods sold will multiply as well as more people will be using e-commerce service.

The growth of the Indian online market is also fostered by the government. More and more policies are established to support the startups. By doing so, India has attracted international investors such as Baidu itself.

Baidu itself is the main search engine provider in China, taking into account that Google is blocked in the country. The Nasdaq-listed company has a market cap of nearly $60 billion.

The company's strategic investments in the Indian market will mainly focus on startups working in Online to Offline spaces (O2O). According to I Am Wire, the Chinese firm has obtained majority stakes in Mydala, an Indian coupon and discount offering company last year in November.

In addition to its plan investing in Indian e-commerce startups, Baidu is also planning on expanding Mobomarket. Mobomarket is Baidu's own app store as an alternative to Android's Playstore. As to now, Mobomarket already dominates the Indian market up to nearly 90 percent. Baidu will expand its Mobomarket in different Indian regional language to cover more markets in India specifically.

Baidu is not the first Chinese company to eye investment in the Indian markets. China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd also talked about expanding to India, as well as Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. Tim Yang, India head of Baidu, stated that they have had the initial discussions with Zomato, BookMyShow, and Big Basket, but the final decision will come from the Chinese headquarters. 

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