Baidu Inc. (BIDU:US)’s travel-booking service Qunar.com Inc. is planning a U.S. initial public offering that may raise about $150 million, said two people with knowledge of the matter.
Qunar, which runs China’s most popular mobile travel app, is working with Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on the sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. An IPO may take place as early as in the fourth quarter, they said.
Baidu, operator of China’s largest search engine, paid $306 million in 2011 for a majority stake in Qunar to tap the country’s growing travel market. The travel site’s search coverage includes about 1,250 travel agencies, 125,000 flight routes and more than 468,000 hotels, according to its website.
Qunar, which means “where to go” in Chinese, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the IPO.
Qunar expects to double sales this year to about 1 billion yuan ($163 million), helped by an expanding middle class and rising use of its mobile application, Chief Executive Officer Zhuang Chenchao said in January. The company generates most of its revenue through advertising. It had about 43 million users at the end of June, according to its website.
The site will hire “hundreds” of software engineers this year as it tries to let users do as much as possible online, Zhuang said in January.
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