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China tech

Baidu VP Wang Lu leaves in latest reshuffle

China's Google has seen a raft of departures since reporting Q1 loss

Baidu has seen several staff reshuffles this year.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Baidu vice president in charge of public and government relations, Wang Lu, has left his position, becoming the latest in a string of departures from the Chinese internet conglomerate.

Wang, who joined Baidu in September 2016 as a member of the company's top decision-making team known as the "e-staff," served his last day at Baidu on Monday, ahead of a seven-day public holiday in celebration of the establishment of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1.

It is understood that Wang resigned from Baidu two to three months ago, although he had been notably absent from all public relations work over the past year.

Those duties were taken over by Yuan Foyu, the former marketing general manager of Chinese internet company NetEase, when she joined Baidu in July 2018, according to a report by Chinese online publication LatePost, citing sources close to Baidu management.

Wang could not be reached for comment. An email to Baidu seeking comment did not elicit any response.

The market first got wind of Wang's resignation when iQiyi, a Nasdaq-listed video streaming platform in which Baidu has a 58% stake, announced on Sept. 27 that Shen Dou, senior vice president of Baidu, was replacing Wang as a board director.

Wang led Baidu's smart city project in 2018. That business is now being merged with Baidu's smart cloud unit, while its transportation-related unit is being taken over by its intelligent driving department. Wang will join a U.S. dollar-denominated fund to serve as its China head, according to the LatePost report, citing sources.

Before Baidu, Wang was president and CEO of Walmart Global e-commerce in Asia and led the acquisition of Chinese online grocery business Yihaodian. Before Walmart, Wang was global vice president and president in China at CBS Interactive. He has also held roles at American media websiteCNET and global digital-media company Ziff Davis.

Baidu, China's largest search engine operator, has faced a string of executive reshuffles this year, including the resignation of Xiang Hailong, who previously served as senior vice president and was one of the closest lieutenants of company founder and CEO Robin Li Yanhong.

Xiang resigned for "personal reasons" after 14 years at Baidu, the company said in an announcement in May. Xiang revealed in a recent interview that he was aiming to raise 200 million yuan ($28.04 million) for a yuan-denominated fund to make angel investments in China.

Even as Baidu remains the largest search service in China with a 76.69% market share, according to data from research platform StatCounter, its market capitalization has dropped to $35.28 billion after it unveiled in May a loss of $49 million in the first quarter. That was its first quarterly loss since it listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in 2005.

Baidu -- once ranked in the top three among internet companies in China -- is now smaller than Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings, Hong Kong-listed group buying platform Meituan-Dianping, e-commerce major JD.com and social commerce major Pinduoduo in terms of market cap.

DealStreetAsia is a financial news site based in Singapore focused on corporate investment activity in Southeast Asia and India. Nikkei recently acquired a majority stake in the company.

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