March 12, 2021
(Reuters) – China’s antitrust regulators are considering levying a record fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd over suspected anticompetitive behavior, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The fine could surpass the $975 million that Qualcomm paid in 2015 over anticompetitive practices, the report said. The regulators are also considering whether the Chinese e-commerce giant should divest some assets unrelated to its main online-retailing business.
Alibaba declined to respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Founder Jack Ma’s business empire has been put under intense scrutiny by Chinese regulators following his stinging criticism of China’s regulatory system in late October.
In late December China’s State Administration for Market Regulation announced it launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba.
That news came after authorities in Beijing halted a planned $37 billion IPO from Ant Group, Alibaba’s internet finance arm.
The company has come under fire in the past from rivals and sellers for allegedly forbidding its merchants from listing on other e-commerce platforms, a practice known as “two-choose-one.”
Alibaba’s Hong Kong shares climbed 1.7% on Friday morning, after its New York shares gained 2.8% overnight amid a broad stock market rally. The New York shares are still down about a quarter from their October levels.
(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Muralikumar Anantharaman)