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Tencent Leads $250 Million Round in Chinese Travel Site Mafengwo

Lulu Yilun Chen
Tencent Leads $250 Million Round in Chinese Travel Site Mafengwo

(Bloomberg) -- Tencent Holdings Ltd. is leading a $250 million investment in Chinese travel site Mafengwo, expanding its footprint in a fast-growing online travel and content sphere.

The Beijing-based company also attracted General Atlantic and Qiming Venture Partners to its latest funding round, Mafengwo said in a statement.

Nine-year-old Mafengwo -- which means “hornets’ nest” -- helps Chinese travelers seeking destination and sight-seeing recommendations from fellow globetrotters. Operating a model akin to TripAdvisor, it’s competing for the world’s largest population of tourists, and travel operators who want to reach a fast-growing domestic audience.

China’s online travel industry is expected to grow 18% to 988 billion yuan ($143 billion) of transactions this year, according to consultancy iResearch. Mafengwo began letting users book hotels via its site in 2015 and has doubled transaction volumes annually over the past four years, it said. This week, the company established a partnership with Hong Kong-listed Tongcheng-Elong Holdings Ltd. to build a one-stop service that helps users book hotels and flights faster after reviewing content on Mafengwo’s platform.

Officially known as Beijing Mafengwo Network Technology Co., the company counts Temasek Holdings Pte as a backer and raised $133 million during its last round of financing in December 2017. The startup plans to use the new funds to develop artificial intelligence technology and improve user recommendations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Edwin Chan, Robert Fenner

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