Ctrip, Baidu's Qunar unit reportedly talking merger, partnership

|By:, SA News Editor

Bloomberg reports leading Chinese travel sites Ctrip (CTRP +5.4%) and Qunar (QUNR +5.4%) are "discussing a range of possibilities, from a full-blown merger to a partnership."

Sources caution the talks are at an early stage, and that ownership structure and financing haven't yet been agreed upon.

With combined 2013 sales of more than $1B, a Ctrip-Qunar merger would create a Chinese online/mobile travel powerhouse ... provided regulators don't object. The companies have been aggressively battling for mobile customers, sacrificing margins in the process.

Ctrip and Qunar are both rallying. Rival eLong (LONG +1.9%) is also higher amid positive early trading for recently-pressured Chinese Internet stocks.

Baidu (BIDU +1.8%) owns 58.6% of Qunar, which delivered a strong IPO last year.