Google, Disney Board a China Bus

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Includes: DIS, GOOG
by: TechCrunch

By Robin Wauters

A consortium of investors led by The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) is currently engaged in advanced talks to invest in Bus Online, China’s leading in-bus digital media and advertising company, sources tell Reuters.

The deal, which would provide Disney with a new platform to promote Mickey Mouse in China, is oddly said to involve Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which is a minority investor in the consortium according to the news agency’s sources.

The consortium reportedly planned to acquire a stake of between 30 and 40 percent in Bus Online for more than $100 million via a purchase of old and new shares to be issued by the company in private placements. Bus Online has raised approximately $80 million from VC firms and banks since 2004.

Google was expected to take only a small stake in the Bus Online deal compared to Disney, but Reuters’ sources stressed that no agreement had been signed yet and senior Disney execs are planning a trip to Beijing to meet Chinese media regulators about its China plans first.

Nevertheless, Google’s involvement in the negotiations is rather odd.

The search and digital advertising giant recently took a stand against censorship in China, after having been hit with ‘highly sophisticated and targeted attack’ on its corporate infrastructure from the country. Google threatened to shut down its business operations in China if the government did not agree to let the firm operate an uncensored search engine there, an issue that is still unresolved at this point.

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