[photopress:travel_qunar.jpg,full,alignright]Lehman Brothers Private Equity Partners has led the fundraising of nearly $10 million for Chinese travel search engine Qunar.com, in its first deal in China’s consumer Internet sector. A spokesman for Qunar.com declined to comment.
Qunar – which sort of sounds like the Chinese for ‘Where are you going?’ – provides pricing information for travel services. It was founded in 2005 and is China’s third largest travel search engine firm. Illustrated is chief executive and co-founder, Fritz Demopoulos.
China’s online travel services sector is dominated by Ctrip.com and eLong in which U.S. online travel giant Expedia has a majority stake.
Qunar, which makes most of its income from advertising fees, has agreements with Hilton Hotels, Intercontinental Hotels and Air China. The companies provide pricing and availability information to Qunar, which, in turn, leads customers directly to their Web sites for booking.
Analsys is of the opinion that China’s online travel industry is poised to take off because authorities are asking airlines and travel agencies to offer electronic air tickets instead of paper ones by the end of 2007.