Report: Groupon looks to launch operations in China

Signs point to the local-deals company preparing to begin operating in China, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

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The daily-deals broker Groupon is reportedly getting ready to launch operations in China, which would help expand its reach in Asia.

In Beijing recently, a company that operates the site Gaopeng.com was conducting interviews in an office with a Groupon sign on display, according to a Wall Street Journal story today. Gaopeng.com is "listed as registered by someone at Internet giant Tencent Holdings of Shenzen, China. " Tencent is one of the stakeholders in Digital Sky Technologies, an investor in Groupon.

The Journal report also said openings for Groupon staff positions have been posted recently on Chinese job sites, including at universities. "The largest group-buying site is hiring in Shanghai!" said one ad, according to the Journal. Another said: "Groupon is the fastest-growing company in history... and it's now starting its Chinese company."

Groupon did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment Sunday afternoon. The Journal said a Groupon spokeswoman based in Beijing declined to comment.

In January, the Chicago-based company and Tencent were in talks to form a partnership that would give Groupon a larger presence in Asia, according to All Things Digital's Kara Swisher, who cited anonymous sources.

Earlier this month, Groupon was criticized for a series of Super Bowl commercials making fun of social causes, including one ad that centered on Tibet. (The ads were in fact part of a campaign to raise money for the causes they highlighted.) Days later the company apologized and pulled the ads.