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Google Sells 2.6% Stake in Baidu.com
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Google Inc. announced on Thursday that it has sold its 2.6 percent stake in Baidu.com Inc., operator of China's most popular search engine, so as to focus on its own China site.

Google, which in January released a version of its search engine for China, bought the stake in Baidu for US$5 million in June 2004, more than a year before the Chinese company's initial public offering last August.

The 749,625-share stake would have been worth US$63.3 million based on Baidu's closing price Wednesday.

With 111 million web users, China is the world's second-biggest Internet market. That number is expected to reach 232 million by 2010, according to market researcher iResearch.

"It looks like Google and Baidu.com will each attack the Chinese market independently," said Steve Weinstein, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Ore. "Both have done a good job to date to gain share in China and hold off competitors."

Google had disclosed in a June 20 regulatory filing that it planned to sell the Baidu stake.

Shares of Google fell US$2.18 on Thursday to US$399.95 after falling 3.6 percent this year. Baidu's US-traded shares fell US$4.20 to US$80.20 after a 27-percent rise this year.

(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2006)

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