Davis Polk & Wardwell is acting for Chinese Internet search giant Baidu Holdings Ltd. on its $1.9 billion acquisition of 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd., a smartphone applications distributor.
Beijing-based Baidu has agreed to buy the 57 percent interest in 91 Wireless currently held by NetDragon Websoft Inc., a Hong Kong-based company that invests in online games and mobile Internet businesses in China. The search company is also planning to buy the rest of the company from other shareholders including Hong Kong telecommunications carrier PCCW Ltd. and Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings.
The Davis Polk team was led by partners Paul Chow and Miranda So in Hong Kong and Howard Zhang in Beijing.
Sidley Austin Hong Kong partner Gloria Lam led the firm's team representing NetDragon on the deal.*
Baidu’s latest acquisition is its largest ever. The company has been seeking to expand beyond its core search business to compete with Chinese rivals like e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, which offers leading social networking and Internet messaging platforms.
91 Wireless operates online app stores targeting Chinese users of Android smartphones.
In May, Davis Polk also advised Baidu on its $370 million purchase of Shanghai-based PPS, an online video service in China. The New York firm acted for Baidu as well last year in its $306 million investment in Beijing-based travel website Qunar.com.
*Updated, 7/18/13: This story has been updated to include Gloria Lam as the lead Sidley Austin partner that advised NetDragon on this transaction.