Digital firms under fire over acquisition deals

Ding Yining
China's market watchdog has fined 10 leading Internet companies and retailers for failing to file for merger and acquisition deals involving minority stakes and smaller rivals.
Ding Yining
Digital firms under fire over acquisition deals
HelloRF

Each of the 10 companies was fined 500,000 yuan for the violations.

China's market watchdog has penalized leading Internet companies and retailers for failing to file for merger and acquisition deals involving minority stakes and smaller rivals.

A total of 10 digital companies and retailers failed to notify regulatory authorities about their acquisition deals, although they are not considered monopolistic acts, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said in an official statement on Friday. 

Each of the 10 companies was fined 500,000 yuan (US$76,923) for the violations.

The cases under review include Tencent's purchase of a minority stake in online education provider Yuanfudao, Didi's joint venture with Softbank and Baidu's takeover of local smart consumer electronic firm Xiaoyu.  

The SAMR looked into the acquisition and joint venture cases and has ruled out unfair competition in each of the cases.

Last December, the SAMR fined Alibaba Investment Limited for failing to reveal its takeover of a majority stake in local retailer InTime Holdings.   

Scrutiny into potentially monopolistic activities has picked up since late 2020, as market watchdogs increase regulation on the booming digital economy.

An antitrust guideline unveiled by the State Council in early February states that law enforcement authorities can investigate into a transaction even if it does not meet relevant filing thresholds.

For example, startups with relatively small revenues but dominant market share might be subject to antitrust rules under the new guideline.

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