Market Overview

China launches antitrust probe into tech giant Alibaba

China has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group and will summon the tech giant’s Ant Group affiliate to meet in coming days, regulators said on Thursday, in the latest blow for Jack Ma’s e-commerce and fintech empire. The probe is part of an accelerating crackdown on anticompetitive behaviour in China’s booming internet space, and the latest setback for Ma, the 56-year-old former school teacher who founded Alibaba and became China’s most famous entrepreneur.

It follows China’s dramatic suspension last month of Ant’s planned $37 billion initial public offering, which had been on track to be the world’s largest, just two days before its shares were due to begin trading in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

In a strongly worded editorial, the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily said if “monopoly is tolerated, and companies are allowed to expand in a disorderly and barbarian manner, the industry won’t develop in a healthy, and sustainable way.”

Shares in Alibaba fell nearly 9% in Hong Kong, their lowest since July, while rivals Meituan and JD.com both fell more than 2%.

Alibaba’s U.S. stock tumbled 13% in its largest one-day drop since its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

Regulators have warned Alibaba about the so-called “choosing one from two” practice under which merchants are required to sign exclusive cooperation pacts preventing them from offering products on rival platforms.

China launches antitrust probe into tech giant Alibaba, Reuters, Dec 25

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