Chinese Regulators Levy Record $2.8 Billion Fine On Alibaba

Chinese Regulators Levy $2.8B Fine On Alibaba

Chinese authorities have fined Alibaba $2.75 billion for alleged antitrust violations, Reuters and other news agencies reported.

The fine, according to Reuters, equals about 4 percent of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic revenue and allegedly came in response to several years of market-power abuses, especially refusing to let some merchants it worked with also work with other eCommerce companies.

“This penalty will be viewed as a closure to the anti-monopoly case for now by the market,” Hong Hao, head of research at BOCOM International, reportedly told Reuters. “It’s indeed the highest profile anti-monopoly case in China. The market has been anticipating some sort of penalty for some time … but people need to pay attention to the measures beyond the anti-monopoly investigation.”

Alibaba issued a letter thanking business partners and shareholders for patience and pledging to fully comply with stipulations that came along with the financial penalty.

“The penalty issued today served to alert and catalyze companies like ours,” the Alibaba letter stated. “It reflects the regulators’ thoughtful and normative expectations toward our industry’s development. It is an important action to safeguard fair market competition and quality development of internet platform economies.”

Alibaba had been in Chinese regulators’ crosshairs since founder Jack Ma, who stepped down from leading the company in 2019, criticized the company’s regulatory framework in an October speech in Shanghai, Reuters reported. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese government blocked the planned initial public offering (IPO) of Ma’s Ant Group.

“Entrepreneurship has to be disruptive. But being provocative to the government has its limits,” Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing tech consultancy BDA China, told Reuters in a separate report.

Reuters reported that Alibaba declined to comment regarding Ma, and efforts to reach a representative of his foundation Sunday (April 11) were unsuccessful.

Ma has kept a low profile of late. Reuters stated: “He’s playing a lot of golf and improving his handicap.”