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Expedia took the highly unusual step of labeling rumors that it planned to sell its majority stake in China’s eLong to Ctrip as “inaccurate.”
“As a matter of corporate policy, Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) does not comment on market rumors relating to its business,” Expedia stated in a press release and SEC filing. “Expedia notes certain inaccurate rumors reported in Chinese media relating to its majority ownership of eLong, Inc. (NASDAQ: LONG).
“Expedia remains a long-term investor in eLong and supports eLong’s drive to become the leading Chinese travel site.”
Several days ago, there was a report, citing “an industry insider,” that Ctrip, which is China’s largest online travel agency, planned to acquire Expedia’s majority stake in rival eLong, valuing eLong at $800 million to $1 billion.
When Skift saw this report July 3, we chose not to write about the rumor because it seemed preposterous.
That’s because expansion in China is a key objective for Expedia, and Expedia officials have said over the last year that the company plans on investing heavily in eLong and views it as a long-term asset.
Expedia Inc.’s commitment to the Asia-Pacific region — and by implication, eLong — was punctuated July 6 when Expedia announced it agreed to acquire Australia-based online travel agency group, the Wotif Group, for $658 million.
Rumors have been swirling for months about Ctrip, with one being that Ctrip and Qunar would merge.
In an interview with Skift in April, Qunar CEO Chenchao “CC” Zhuang strongly hinted that he would prefer it if Qunar remained independent.