SHANGHAI/HONG KONG – China’s E-commerce giant Alibaba Group has been hit with an antitrust probe and will summon it’s Ant Group affiliate to meet in coming days, regulators said on Thursday.
This is the latest blow for Jack Ma’s e-commerce and fintech empire, which had to face 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 shares were due to begin trading in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
Communist Party’s People’s Daily carried an editorial which said, that 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”.
Alibaba has been warned by regulators about it’s so-called “choosing one from two” norm under which traders had to ink exclusive cooperation deals which prevent them from displaying products on rival platforms.
According to the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), a probe has been launched.
Financial regulators will also meet with Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech affiliate in the coming days, said People’s Bank of China on Thursday.
Jack Ma’s firm said it would cooperate with regulators.
Fred Hu, chairman of Primavera Capital Group, an Ant investor, said global markets would be watching closely to see whether the moves are “politically motivated or genuine impartial law enforcement”.