Tencent set to expand into search, other markets

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Chinese internet giant Tencent is already a dominant player in the online space. It owns a number of chat properties, microblogging sites, social networks, and multiplayer online gaming portals both in China and around the world. Turns out that’s not enough.

The company, which is part-owned by emerging markets internet giant Naspers, says it wants to expand into new business areas including search and ecommerce.

“We will continue to invest selectively, but forcefully, in emerging growth opportunities, notably ecommerce and search,” the company said in a statement.

It claims that it is making these investments in a bid to bolster its ad revenue.

The company also says it will continue growing its interests outside China, particularly when it comes to gaming.

“We made some acquisitions overseas last year to better understand the global gaming trend, which would be applicable to China. It also paves the way for us exploring markets abroad,” Tencent president Martin Lau told a news conference.

Tencent is already a fairly active investor, particularly in emerging markets. It reportedly owns a 49% stake in Malaysian online firm Sanook. It also has a small stake in Facebook through its investment in Russian tech company Digital Sky Technologies and Indian social powerhouse Ibibo.

Tencent’s microblogging platform Tencent Weibo has around 300-million registered users. Its flagship product, however, is its instant messenger QQ. With 711.7 million active user accounts, Tencent QQ is the world’s second largest online community.

The aggressive push for extra revenue spinners comes on the back of Tencent announcing a 43% jump in fourth quarter earnings.

One factor pushing its desire for expansion might be new regulations that force the companies running China’s microblogs (known as weibos) to verify the accounts of all their users.

Rival internet giant Sina recently expressed concerns that the new regulations would impact negatively on its ability to draw in advertisers.

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