Chinese authorities have fined e-commerce group Alibaba a giant 18.2 billion yuan ($ 2.78 billion) for abuse of dominance, state media in China reported on Saturday.
This fine follows an investigation initiated against Alibaba in December, according to the China New Agency.
Alibaba was accused of requiring exclusivity from merchants wishing to sell their products on its platform, avoiding rival e-commerce sites.
“We sincerely accept this sanction”
“Since 2015, the Alibaba group has abused its dominant position in the market” to gain an unfair advantage via the exclusivity requirement, the regulator said.
This behavior has restricted competition and innovation in the sector and violated the rights and interests of businesses and consumers, he added.
A record fine, which is nearly three times the amount of nearly $ 1 billion inflicted on Qualcomm in 2015, according to Bloomberg.
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The amount of the penalty was determined after regulators decided to fine Alibaba equal to 4% of its 2019 revenue, or 455.7 billion yuan, according to New China.
“We sincerely accept this sanction and we will comply firmly with it”, reacted briefly Alibaba in a statement on the networks.
The group is also committed to bringing its activities into compliance with regulations. “And to assume better” his “Social responsibilities. “
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Alibaba and other major Chinese tech companies face pressure amid growing concern over their influence in China, where consumers use these leading platforms to communicate, shop, pay bills, book. taxis, taking out loans and a whole host of other daily tasks.
Alibaba, in particular, has been under intense scrutiny since last October. Its co-founder Jack Ma then accused Chinese regulators of being behind their time for expressing concern about the expansion of Alibaba’s financial arm, Ant Group, in the areas of loans, management. assets and insurance.
China seeks to curb personal indebtedness and chaotic lending, and the growing prominence of Ant – along with the rare public criticism of Jack Ma – has been seen as a challenge to the state-dominated financial sphere in the country. .
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E-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com, as well as messaging and gaming colossus Tencent, have benefited from the digital boom in Chinese lives and the government’s ban on major US competitors on the Internet. domestic market to become some of the world’s top-rated companies.
Even before Saturday’s announcement, the Chinese crackdown had already cost Alibaba and Jack Ma dearly.
In November, Chinese regulators halted in extremis a colossal $ 34 billion IPO by Ant Group, an Alibaba subsidiary for online payment, before ordering it to return to its original skills as a service provider. online payment.
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The stocks of major tech players have suffered from the intensification of oversight of major tech platforms.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Alibaba was also under pressure to dispose of a wide range of media assets, including a potential sale of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.