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Baidu pushes business in recession-hit Brazil

By Satarupa Bhattacharjya | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-28 07:31

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 businesspeople 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 app-developers. 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.



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