According to a report from the Wall Street Journal citing sources familiar with the matter, China’s antitrust regulators are mulling options to levy a record fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd over suspected anti-competitive behavior.
The potential fine could exceed $975 million, the amount that was levied on Qualcomm in 2015 over anticompetitive practices, said the report. The difference here however is that that while Qualcomm was fined over anticompetitive practices, Chinese regulators want to penalize out Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding over suspected anti-competitive behavior.
Regulators are also contemplating whether to force the Chinese e-commerce giant to divest some of its assets that are not related to its main online-retailing business.
Alibaba declined comment.
Ever since Jack Ma publicly criticized China’s regulatory system in October 2020, the ruling Communist Party appears to have placed his group under intense scrutiny.
In late December 2020, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation announced its launch of an antitrust probe into Alibaba.
Chinese authorities also halted the Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO. The Ant Group is Alibaba’s internet finance arm. Alibaba has come under regulatory scrutiny over allegations by rivals and sellers for allegedly forbidding its merchants from listing on other e-commerce platforms, in an industry-wide practice known as “two-choose-one.”