The Strategist

Baidu is expanding into fintech sector

08/24/2018 - 15:33

Baidu Inc.’s subsidiary company, operating in the financial services sector, has obtained a license to sell mutual funds. The license is expected to help the company reduce the gap in competition in the fast-growing financial and technological sector, Caixin writes.

The license notice was published on the website of the Beijing branch of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) on Wednesday evening, although the application was dated August 13. Baidu will need to complete the preparatory work within six months.

Baidu is the last of the technological giants (Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Inc.), which received the license to sell mutual funds.

E-commerce giants tend to use their huge customer base to capture a large share of the financial services sector and the growing capital management market.

Baidu established a financial services unit, now known as Du Xiaoman, as early as 2015, offering short-term loans and investment services. However, in an attempt to catch up with its larger competitors, the company ran into difficulties.

In April, Baidu announced its intention to allocate the unit to a separate company, selling a controlling stake to a group of investors for $ 1.9 billion. Direct investment funds TPG Capital LP and Carlyle Group are headed by a consortium. Among the investors are also the Chinese insurer Taikang Group and the international division Agricultural Bank of China. As a result of the transaction, which has not been completed yet, Baidu will retain a 42% stake in Du Xiaoman.

Without the license to sell mutual funds, Du Xiaoman could only act as a platform for fund management companies and third-party distributors, and had to send customers to other sites to purchase products. Currently, the mobile application Du Xiaoman offers five products: three money market funds and two asset management products.