The online shopping joint venture between China's Baidu.com and Japan's Rakuten may start operations in the first half of October and its headcount could jump tenfold over three years, the top executive told Reuters. The biggest Internet search engine in China and the Japanese online mall operator formed the company, named Lekutian, for $48 million in January this year. The Chinese language website will aim to become the No.1 player in China, which has the largest number of Internet users in the world, estimated to be more than 400 million and growing rapidly.

“We have attracted more clients than expected and by the time we launch, there should be thousands of merchants on our website,” Koichi Nakamura, the firm's chairman and chief executive officer, said in an interview on Tuesday. In 2009, online shopping in China totalled 258.6 billion yuan, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Tags: , ,