* Herman Yu moves to Baidu from China tech rival Weibo
* Jennifer Li steps down as CFO after nearly a decade
* Baidu looking to shift focus towards mobile, AI (Adds details, Baidu chairman comments; alters dateline)
SHANGHAI, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Chinese search engine giant Baidu Inc said on Monday it had hired the finance chief of Weibo Corp as its chief financial officer, marking a leadership change for the firm as its hones its focus onto artificial intelligence.
The appointment of Herman Yu, Weibo’s CFO since 2015, sees Baidu stalwart Jennifer Li step down as CFO after almost a decade in the role to become a senior adviser to Baidu’s top management, the company said in a statement.
Baidu is trying to drive a recovery in its fortunes after a string of regulatory investigations last year hit profit. A sharper focus on mobile and artificial intelligence (AI) helped boost the firm in the latest quarter.
“I look forward to working with Herman in his new capacity, as Baidu enters the next stage of growth in the AI era,” Baidu Chairman Robin Li said in a statement, citing Yu’s long financial experience with U.S.-listed firms.
Baidu has been forced to revamp its business model and focus to keep pace with its main local tech rivals - Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd - which are spending billions of dollars expanding into new markets.
Li, one of China’s most powerful female tech figures, will remain chief executive of Baidu’s private equity unit Baidu Capital, which focuses on investment opportunities in AI.
Yu, who studied in California, has previously worked at Adobe Systems Inc and VeriFone Systems Inc, and sits of the boards of a number Chinese tech-related firms including 58.com Inc and ZTO Express Inc.
Weibo, backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and which operates one of China’s most popular microblog platforms, was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Shubham Kalia in BENGALURU and Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI; Additional reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Christopher Cushing)