Monday 14 December 2020 12:46 pm

Chinese regulator fines Alibaba and Tencent under antitrust laws

The Chinese markets regulator has fined Alibaba and Tencent for a string of deals in its latest bid to clamp down on tech companies. 

The State Administration for Market Regulation announced on Monday it had fined Alibaba, Tencent-backed China Literature and Shenzhen Hive Box Technology 500,000 yuan. 

It comes after the regulator published draft regulations last month looking to curb tech monopolies, one of the most wide-sweeping proposals on Chinese tech. 

The proposals include pricing, payment methods and use of data, as Beijing steps up its effort to control the growing influence of big tech. 

The SAMR said the fines are related to Alibaba’s bid to take a controlling stake in department store chain Intime, China Literature’s acquisition of New Classics Media and Hive Box’s acquisition of China Post Smart Logistics. 

However the issue is not that the acquisitions restricted or eliminated competition, rather the companies failed to submit the relevant paperwork required by monopoly laws. 

The watchdog also announced a probe into the merger of Tencent-backed gaming platforms Huya and Douyu. The two companies agreed a deal in October reportedly brokered by Tencent, which is a major shareholder of both companies. 

“Investment and takeovers are important means for development and growth of internet companies,” the regulator said.“The above-mentioned companies have a large influence in the industry, carry out many investments and takeovers, have specialized legal teams and should be familiar with the regulations governing M&A. Their failure to actively declare has a relatively severe impact.”

The announcement comes amid a growing move worldwide to clamp down on tech giants and their practices. Last week the US Federal Trade Commission announced it plans to sue Facebook claiming it had broken antitrust law. 

In its complaint, with a coalition of 46 states, Washington DC and Guam, the FTC said it was looking at Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp.