Internet travel leader Expedia (EXPE) said Monday its corporate travel unit will foray into China in a partnership with its subsidiary, China's number-two online travel firm eLong (LONG). The deal marks Expedia Corporate Travel's first move into Asia; it already has operations in the U.S., Canada, France, U.K., Spain, Italy, German and Belgium. "Our entry into the Asia-Pacific region is part of our commitment to grow with the needs of our customers," said Jean-Pierre Remy, president of Expedia Corporate Travel. "Many of our existing customers and prospects already do business in China, so we have a clear opportunity to better service the needs of these clients by being where they need us to be." In a note to investors, Citigroup analyst Catherine Leung wrote, "Corporate Travel in China is an attractive market opportunity. Managed corporate travel is not a widely implemented concept among local companies in China, though China has the fourth largest business travel market globally, and corporate travel accounts for over half of China's large, fast-growing travel market." Leung says the Chinese corporate travel market is currently led by American Express (AXP), followed by Ctrip (CTRP) which entered the market in 2006.
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