Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU) is poised to make more acquisitions this year to entice smartphone users to tap into its services, a strategy that will put it on a collision course with bigger rivals like Tencent Holdings Ltd. The biggest Internet search engine company in
Chinasaw mobile revenues grow last year to exceed, for the first time, a fifth of its total revenue as a $2.5-billionU. S. buying spree boosted mobile products. Baidu has been racing to catch up to Tencent, owner of the wildly popular messaging app WeChat, and e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, in the race to dominate screen space in China, the world's largest smartphone market where more than 80% of all Internet users access the web through mobile devices. Both Tencent and Alibabahave spent big on acquisitions and are likely to continue to do so, intensifying the competition for any potential takeover target. This year could see Internet companies spending a record amount in dollar terms for buyouts, Citibank analyst Muzhi Li said in a recent report. Baidu, with a war chest exceeding $7 billionU.S. as of last September, is well placed for any purchases. This year, the company to wants to focus on gaming, music and social media, Li said, in addition to expanding location-based services, including combining its map software with recently acquired group-buying business Nuomi. By comparison, Tencent's cash and equivalents at the end of September were lower at $5.9 billionU.S. Baidu ADS began Thursday in New Yorktrading at $177.65U.S., up $4.75, or 2.8%, from Wednesday's close, in the upper region of a 52-week trading range of $82.98U.S. to $185.50U.S.