HONG KONG â Two of Chinaâs leading travel companies are teaming up to make the most of a bright spot in the Chinese economy.
Ctrip.com International, the Chinese travel-booking company, agreed on Monday to a stock transaction with Qunar Cayman Islands, a travel search engine, and both companies agreed to cooperate across different services.
Baidu, which is the majority shareholder of Qunar, exchanged 178,702,519 Class A shares and 11,450,000 Class B shares for 11,488,381 newly issued ordinary shares in Ctrip.
Baidu will now have a 25 percent voting interest in Ctrip, while Ctrip will have a 45 percent voting interest in Qunar.
Four Ctrip representatives have joined Qunarâs board, including James Liang, the chairman and chief executive, and Jane Sun, co-president and chief operating officer.
Robin Li, the chairman and chief executive of Baidu, and Tony Yip, the head of investments, mergers and acquisitions, have been appointed to Ctripâs board.
Qunar, whose name means âwhere to goâ in Chinese, had taken a step toward integrating more tightly with Baidu in September. It gave Baidu another two seats on top of the three it already had on its board.The company has been pushing to broaden its offerings in the face of competition from groups backed by Alibaba and Tencent.
Despite fears about the health of the Chinese economy, the travel market is still growing. Ctripâs second-quarter revenue rose 47 percent, to $ 408 million, from a year ago. Qunarâsrevenue increased 120 percent, to $ 142.1 million in the second quarter.
Kaiser Kuo, the international communications director for Baidu, said the agreement with Ctrip would give Qunar more opportunities to cooperate on mobile search and map-based products.
He also said the two companies would be able to benefit from each othersâ strengths in different markets.
âCtrip is big on high end business travel, Qunar has been more leisure, personally booked travel,â he said. âWeâre covering more bases, a broader demographic.â
The travel industry is not the only sector that is seeing companies team up amid steep competition.
Meituan, a group buying service, and Dianping, a consumer review site, agreed to join forces this month with the goal of creating an e-commerce juggernaut.