Alibaba Accepted Record China Fine and Vowed to Change

Chinese tech giant Alibaba said on Monday that it accepted a record penalty imposed by the country’s anti-monopoly regulator.

Regulators slapped a $2.8bn fine after a search determined that it had abused its market position for years.

The fine amounts to about 4% of the company’s 2019 domestic revenue.

Alibaba Group’s executive president Joe Tsai indicated that regulators have taken an interest in platforms like Alibaba as they grow in importance.

“We’re happy to urge the matter behind us, but the tendency is that regulators are going to be keen to seem at a number of the areas where you would possibly have unfair competition,” he told an investor turn Monday.

The company added that it had been not conscious of any longer anti-monopoly investigations by Chinese regulators, though it signaled that Alibaba and its competitors would remain under review in China over mergers and acquisitions.

The main issue for regulators was that Alibaba restricted merchants from doing business or running promotions on rival platforms.

The company said it might introduce measures to lower entry barriers and business costs faced by merchants on e-commerce platforms.

“With this penalty decision we’ve received good guidance on a number of the precise issues under the anti-monopoly law,” Mr. Tsai said.

The group doesn’t expect any material impact on its business from the change of exclusivity arrangements imposed by regulators.

The penalty is that the latest during a chain of events targeting the corporate that began last October, after its co-founder Jack Ma criticized regulators, suggesting they were stifling innovation.

Shortly after the speech, Chinese regulators scuppered the share market launch of Ant Group, which is Alibaba’s sister company and China’s biggest electronic payments provider.

However, some commentators noted that regulators had legitimate concerns about Ant Group’s consumer finance arm.

Ant Group was expected to be last year’s biggest share market launch on the Hong Kong exchange.

But Alibaba is not the only Chinese company to return under scrutiny by China’s increasingly assertive regulators.

Last month, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said it had fined 12 companies over 10 deals that violated anti-monopoly rules.

The companies included Tencent, Baidu, and Didi Chuxing – which are among China’s largest tech companies.

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