China slapped a record 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Saturday, after an anti-monopoly probe found the e-commerce giant had abused its dominant market position for several years, Trend reports citing Reuters.
The fine, about 4% of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic revenues, comes amid a crackdown on technology conglomerates and indicates China’s antitrust enforcement on internet platforms has entered a new era after years of laissez-faire approach.
The Alibaba business empire has come under intense scrutiny in China since billionaire founder Jack Ma’s stinging public criticism of the country’s regulatory system in October.
A month later, authorities scuttled a planned $37 billion IPO by Ant Group, Alibaba’s internet finance arm, which was set to be the world’s biggest ever. The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) announced its antitrust probe into the company in December.
Alibaba said in a statement that it accepts the penalty and “will ensure its compliance with determination”. The company will hold a conference call on Monday to discuss the penalty.
“We will tackle it openly and work through it together,” CEO Daniel Zhang said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters. “Let’s improve ourselves and start again together as one.”
The fine is more than double the $975 million paid in China by Qualcomm, the world’s biggest supplier of mobile phone chips, in 2015 for anticompetitive practices.