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China fined Alibaba and Tencent for circumventing antitrust rules and raised its pressure on tech giants

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The Chinese market regulator announced on Monday the imposition of fines amounting to 500,000 yuan ($ 76,500) to the digital giants Alibaba and Tencent for not complying with antitrust procedures in the acquisition of other firms.

In a statement published on its website, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) indicates that these conglomerates they did not report correctly the operations, which involved a concentration of market players in certain sectors, for approval by the authorities.

In the case of Alibaba, the investigation focuses on an expansion of the participation of its investment subsidiary in the shopping center operator Yintai (Intime) in February 2018, while in that of Tencent it is about the purchase of the producer audiovisual New Classics Media by its subsidiary China Literature, a leading online literature platform.

After the investigations, the authorities came to the conclusion that both companies did not send, as required by the country’s antitrust law, documents specifying that the operations represented a concentration of market players, although these “did not have an exclusion effect. or restriction of competition ”.

(Reuters)

Therefore, the SAMR Antitrust Office decided impose the maximum fine contemplated by the regulations, an amount that, despite being small compared to the size of these companies – both Alibaba and Tencent are valued at more than 700,000 million dollars – aims to highlight that the antitrust oversight in the digital sector.

“Although the amount of the fines is relatively low, they send signals to society of stronger antitrust oversight in the internet sector, remove the ‘wait and see’ mentality from some companies and produce a deterrent effect”Explained a spokesperson for the organization.

Apart from Alibaba and Tencent, The main operator of parcel lockers in the country, Fengchao (Hive Box), was also sanctioned, for its purchase of its main competitor, Sudiyi, until then owned by the public postal company China Post.

SAMR warned that all digital companies should be scrutinized by the authorities when carrying out mergers or acquisitions, including those of SMEs, so that they can avoid the formation of monopolies and the “drowning” of other companies with the aim of “putting obstacles to innovation”.

In recent months, the Chinese regime’s relationship with large digital firms appears to have soured, especially with those that have large subsidiaries dedicated to the fintech sector, such as Alibaba, owner of Alipay, and Tencent, Tenpay’s parent company – used mainly through its social network WeChat, known as the “Chinese WhatsApp” -.

This month, the president of the Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and number two of the central bank, Guo Shuqing, assured that China will supervise in a “special” way the ‘fintech’, which it accused of having ‘de facto’ control over the data, of “tending to hinder competition and trying to get excessive profits” and, in some cases, to trick citizens with few resources into getting into debt.

The authorities have already announced more restrictive regulations for the sector and suspended at the last minute the IPO of Ant Group, the operator of Alipay, which if it had taken place on November 5 as planned would have been the largest operation of this type in the company. history.

(With information from EFE)

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