November 7, 2008 / 5:37 AM / 9 years ago

Google's China market share to grow in 2009 - exec

SHANGHAI, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Google's China's market share will grow compared with other markets next year despite the downturn from the global financial crisis, the head of Google's (GOOG.O) China operations told Reuters on Friday.

Kai-Fu Lee, co-president of Google China, said China was the best performing market globally in the third quarter, but declined to forecast the growth rate for 2009.

Lee was optimistic that Google would continue to attract online advertising clients, despite the economic slowdown.

"Even if companies cut down advertising spending in general, the advertising spending on Google is relatively unlikely to be cut."

"Clients approve the advertising mode of Google, because we guarantee it be well-targeted," said Lee on the sidelines of an industry conference.

But Lee recognised the uncertainties and challenges brought on by the global financial crisis.

"It is very difficult to predict the future of the financial crisis. If companies stopped advertising, or closed down, no one would be immune."

While Google dominates much of the global web search market, in China, Baidu (BIDU.O) holds a majority of the market share.

Lee said this year's recruitment plans had not been affected by current economic conditions, but said headcount growth would slow down as the company matures.

"Google has already a sizable team in China, and it is impossible to keep annual three-digit increases as in the past few years," Lee said.

Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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