SHANGHAI, March 17 Baidu Inc said on
Friday it had led an investment round into green car start-up
NextEV, as the Chinese search engine giant looks for new growth
drivers and as competition heats up in the fast-growing electric
Baidu is expanding into areas outside its core search and
advertising business to make up for sales which have taken a hit
from a tighter regulations and subsidy wars in different
segments with rivals such as Alibaba.
"We can confirm that Baidu has led investment in this round
of funding," a spokeswoman said in a comment sent to Reuters on
Friday. She declined to give an investment figure or name the
co-investors, but local media reported the overall funding round
was valued at up to $600 million.
China has splashed out billions of dollars in subsidies to
promote greener cars, creating a gold-rush among unknown
start-ups, but is now tightening its grip on the world's biggest
electric vehicle market to weed out weaker domestic firms.
The investment is the first for Baidu Capital, a 20 billion
yuan ($3 billion) investment fund Baidu set up late last year to
focus on mid- and late-stage deals in the internet sector.
NextEV already has the backing of tech giant Tencent
Holdings Ltd and Hillhouse Capital, and had targeted
to have raised 20 billion yuan in China and overseas by the end
of last year.
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan and Cate Cadell; Editing by