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Expedia is investing $41 million in eLong, the second biggest online travel company in China, as part of an effort for the Bellevue company to get a bigger foothold in the country. Expedia had already owned a portion of the 12-year-old company, and with the latest investment it now owns a 56 percent share. In addition to Expedia, Chinese Internet company Tencent — with 674 million active monthly users — said that it was buying 16 percent of the company for $84.4 million.

“China is a key region for us from a strategic perspective,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO of Expedia in a press release. “Aligning ourselves with the online industry leader in China, and increasing our own investment in eLong, strengthens our position in this critical market, and will allow eLong to strengthen its outstanding online hotel services and provide air and hotel products to more and more customers in China.”

During the first quarter of 2011, approximately 39 percent of Expedia’s worldwide gross bookings and 40 percent of worldwide revenue came from international markets.

Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that Expedia planned to spend upwards of $50 million in China by 2013

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