Baidu pushes busi­ness in re­ces­sion-hit Brazil

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By SATARUPA BHATTACHARJYA satarupa@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing-based tech­nol­ogy gi­ant Baidu Inc is hope­ful of its prospects in Brazil de­spite the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try’s on­go­ing eco­nomic strug­gle.

Brazil has yet to show ma­jor signs of re­cov­ery since be­ing hit by a wave of re­ces­sion in 2014.

Adding to such woes, Dilma Rouss­eff was re­moved as the pres­i­dent in Au­gust over bud­getary laws, in an im­peach­ment process that started in 2015. Her suc­ces­sor, Michel Te­mer, has sought to cut public spend­ing and ini­ti­ate pen­sion and la­bor re­forms.

The Nas­daq-listed Chi­nese com­pany, with a mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of $55 bil­lion, is will­ing to give Brazil­ian com­pa­nies money, tech­nol­ogy and ac­cess to its lo­cal mo­bile in­ter­net base, a se­nior Baidu ex­ec­u­tive re­cently told a del­e­ga­tion of vis­it­ing Brazil­ian busi­ness peo­ple in Bei­jing.

“We can pro­vide money, lo­cal traf­fic (phone app users) and in­ject Chi­nese know-how di­rectly into the Brazil­ian mar­ket,” Yan Di, Baidu’s gen­eral man­ager for Brazil, said at the meet­ing with more than 20 Brazil­ian en­trepreneurs in the com­pany’s head­quar­ters, where a few other se­nior Baidu ex­ec­u­tives were also present.

Baidu, which opened an of­fice in the coun­try’s largest city of Sao Paulo in 2013, sells dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture and Android prod­ucts there. It has 27 mil­lion monthly users of its phone apps in Brazil, a spokesman for the com­pany, Josh Fenn, told China Daily. He said the traf­fic — peo­ple who use at least one of Baidu’s apps once a month — can help lo­cal busi­nesses dis­trib­ute their own apps.

The com­pany has 300 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users world­wide, he said.

A part of Baidu’s busi­ness is to get cus­tomers out­side the coun­try for Chi­nese ap­pde­vel­op­ers.

In that as­pect, large mar­kets like In­dia and Brazil are key tar­gets. The com­pany es­ti­mates more than 1,500 home-grown de­vel­op­ers are us­ing the Baidu plat­form to sell or ad­ver­tise their apps abroad.

De­scrib­ing Brazil’s cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion as “tem­po­rary”, Yan said af­ter the meet­ing that the coun­try had man­aged to come out of pre­vi­ous crises and it shouldn’t be any dif­fer­ent this time. He also said in­vest­ment risks for Baidu were lower with the “pe­riod of tur­bu­lence” in Brazil­ian pol­i­tics now over.

“We see a very strong pres­ence in lo­cal ser­vices,” he said of Baidu’s am­bi­tions.

In late Septem­ber, Baidu an­nounced a $60 mil­lion in­vest­ment with lo­cal fund man­ager, Con­fra­par, in a Sao Paulo-based com­pany called East­erly Ven­tures, to make “strate­gic in­vest­ments” in Brazil­ian tech star­tups.

REUTERS

A wo­man is sil­hou­et­ted against the Baidu logo at a new prod­uct launch from Baidu in Shang­hai on Nov 26, 2015.

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