panda.jpgSpanish internet security company Panda Security has signed a deal with China's Treasureware to market its products in China. It has also taken a 51% stake in the company for an undisclosed amount.

The Spanish firm has been operating in China since 1999 via a franchise operation called Founders. It has now decided the market is sufficiently mature to warrant a more direct presence with a JV in which it is the dominant partner.

With more than 340m PCs, the Spanish company sees China as one of its most important growth markets and internet security is currently a a hot topic in China — but mostly for all the wrong reasons.

Speaking to Spain's Efe news service, Panda Security's chief executive Juan Santana said that China is the world's principal centre for internet piracy and the source of a good number of the malware programs that infect PCs around the world.

Last week, Chinese government's made a last-minute climbdown on a plan to make internet filtering software obligatory on all new PCs The aim was ostensibly only to block Chinese users from accessing online porn, but protesters in the west and inside China were quick to jump on the potential for the software to be used by the government to block access to much broader range of “sensitive” content — a particuarly topical example being websites showing ethnic unrest in China's Xingiang region.

The contract to develop the software was awarded to a little-known Chinese internet security company despite the much greater experience that western companies such as Symantec, McAfee and even Panda have in this area. Given the way the plan has backfired, no doubt these vendors are very grateful not to have been involved.

While Panda is not as well known outside of its native Spain as its US rivals, Santana believes the firm's unusual name give it a big advantage when it comes to building its brand in panda-loving China. However, it recently changed its name from Panda Software to Panda Security and dropped the panda from its logo.