Chinese web giant Baidu is set to acquire a minority stake in car-booking app maker Uber Technologies, according to Bloomberg.
The investment, which local reports suggested could be as much as $600 million, will give Uber a boost as it looks to expand in China, after focusing on markets in Southeast Asia.
The deal will see Uber receive cash and non-cash assets such as access to Baidu’s online resources, which include China’s biggest internet search engine.
A Baidu representative would only reveal that an announcement regarding an investment with a US start-up that is a household name would be made on 17 December.
Li Yujie, an analyst at RHB Research Institute Sdn in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg that Uber needs a local player like Baidu, “that really understands the Chinese market”.
The move fits with Baidu’s efforts to promote its mobile payment system and could boost the Chinese company’s traffic and location-based services.
Baidu may also have been motivated by the fact that rivals Alibaba and Tencent have previously invested in car booking and taxi hailing apps with a presence in China.
It was reported earlier this month that Uber secured a round of funding that valued the company at $40 billion. A previous funding round in the summer valued the company at $18.2 billion.
The service has faced a number of regulatory issues, however — most recently with challenges to its services in India and California.