China’s market regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), on Monday announced that it fined e-commerce giant Alibaba (HKEX: 9988), Tencent-backed online literature company China Literature (HKEX: 0772), and SF Express-owned smart locker Hive Box, RMB 500,000 (USD 76,463) each for not reporting deals for monopoly review, in a move to rein in the mounting power of tech companies in the country.
Alibaba’s investing arm took a controlling stake of department store operator InTime in 2017 and further increased its holdings in 2018. China Literature acquired TV series and film production company New Classics Media in 2018. Hive Box bought rival China Post Smart Logistics Technology in May. While the SAMR said that none of these deals “will restrict or eliminate competition,” the fines stem from the companies not submitting the paperwork to the authorities, violating the anti-monopoly law.
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“Although competition in the field of ‘platform economy’ presents some new characteristics, the internet industry is not a place outside the anti-monopoly law,” said SAMR’s spokesperson when asked by local media about these cases. “All enterprises should strictly comply with anti-monopoly laws and regulations to maintain fair competition in the market, and only in this way can we ensure the healthy development of the whole industry.”
In November, SAMR issued a new draft of antitrust regulations, in a bid to better supervise the monopolistic practices of internet platforms. The merger of two top livestreaming platforms—Douyu and Huya—is also under investigation, according to SAMR.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed stock closed at HKD 251.6 on Monday, down 2.63% while China Literature declined 4.12% to HKD 55.85. Tencent (HKSE:0700) was down 2.89% to HKD 571.