China’s biggest internet search engine company, Baidu, has declared blandly in a statement that it has signed an agreement to buy the 91 Wireless Chinese app store, for a whole total of US$1.9 billion.
This timely proposal comes at a time that Baidu is seeking to branch out beyond its usual search business in order to compete against the likes of Alibaba and Tencent which are the rival internet giants in China.
Baidu had struggled to boost its presence in the mobile market and this App will make their presence be felt in the country.
The internet company said that it had signed a legally required memorandum of understanding to acquire control of a greater part of 91 Wireless from NetDragon Websoft, a Hong Kong-listed company that invests in online gaming and mobile Internet businesses in China.
The company would have to pay NetDragon USD1.09 billion for its 57.4 percent shares in 91 Wireless, and to also offer roughly USD800 million on similar terms to the owners of the remaining 42.6 percent share, who were not identified. The deal will be done by 14th August.
91 Wireless was established in 2007 and currently operates two app stores in China, 91 Assistant and HiMarket, both of which run on Google’s Android operating system. It also develops its own apps.
Having more than 10 billion apps downloaded, 91 Wireless is China’s biggest 3rd party app distribution platform by both active users and accumulated downloads, according to iResearch.
NetDragon further said that a separate plan announced in December to seek a potential spinoff of the 91 Wireless businesses on Hong Kong’s secondary board would be rejected, pending finalization of the sale to Baidu.