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The Meaning of Baidu’s Car Business Sale Denial

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May. 24 2019, Published 10:06 a.m. ET

Baidu says it’s not looking for external funding for its Apollo unit

Baidu (BIDU) has denied media reports that it’s exploring a sale or spin-off of its car business. Some Chinese media outlets have reported that Baidu is considering spinning off its Apollo self-driving unit to attract external investors to the business.

Through Apollo, Baidu is developing a sort of operating system for self-driving vehicles.

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Baidu signals that it’s a company of means

In denying reports that it was exploring external funding for Apollo, Baidu seems to have indicated that it has the resources required to develop Apollo on its own, which can’t be far from reality, as a Baidu has a strong war chest. The company finished the first quarter with $21.4 billion in its cash reserve, making it one of China’s wealthiest technology companies. Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY), the other Chinese tech companies with interest in self-driving technology, finished the first quarter with cash reserves of $28.8 billion and $16 billion, respectively.

Alphabet (GOOGL), which is also into self-driving through its Waymo unit, exited the first quarter with $113.5 billion in its cash reserve. Yandex (YNDX), the Russian technology company that’s also involved in developing self-driving cars, closed the first quarter with $1.1 billion in its cash reserve.

Last year, Baidu teamed up with several automakers, including Ford Motor Company (F), to test self-driving vehicles in China. Baidu is planning to launch a self-driving taxi service.

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