Shares of Baidu.com, China's most popular internet search engine, fell almost 4 per cent even as the company said its departing chief technology officer Jerry Liu was unlikely to start a rival firm. Mr Liu's resignation, effective on December 19, was for personal reasons and his departure will not affect Baidu's operations, the company said. The shares, which trade on the Nasdaq, closed 3.6 per cent lower at US$84.26 on Tuesday after Baidu announced Mr Liu's resignation. Mr Liu helped Baidu grow from a start-up to its position as holder of more than 60 per cent of China's online search market in competition with Google and others. 'Mr Liu said he has not yet decided which company to join or to start but will spend some time with his family first after leaving Baidu,' said Lesley Zhang, a senior manager of Baidu's investor relations department. 'Until now, we do not see any possibility that Mr Liu will set up a rival company.' The impact on the share price was short term, Ms Zhang said. 'The mild shock to Baidu's share price is inevitable but will definitely not affect their long-term performance.' Mr Liu, who was Baidu's first employee, had been the vice-president of engineering since January 2000 before becoming chief technical officer early this year, overseeing engineering teams and the research and development of search technologies in Chinese. Baidu this year settled a lawsuit with music companies EMI, Sony-BMG, Universal and Warner Brothers over copyright infringement and complaints that it directed internet users to sites operating unlicensed music downloads. The search company, which paid 68,000 yuan in compensation, has since had to respond, along with other internet firms, to a mainland music website's claim seeking ive million yuan in compensation. Baidu, which will post its third-quarter results on Tuesday, signed an alliance this month with Viacom's MTV by which it can make 15,000 hours of videos available on its website. Chairman and chief executive Robin Li said Baidu wishes Mr Liu all the best in his future endeavours. Ms Zhang said Baidu is confident a suitable replacement will be selected before December 19.