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Alibaba shares sink in Hong Kong as China launches antitrust probe

Alibaba’s company logo at its office in Hong Kong on February 22, 2012. Aaron Tam/Stringer | Getty Images. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BEIJING, Dec 24, 2020, Market Watch. Chinese regulators on Thursday announced an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, stepping up official efforts to tighten control over China’s fast-growing tech industries, Market Watch reported.

The market regulator said it was looking into Alibaba’s policy of “choose one of two,” which requires business partners to avoid dealing with competitors. The one-sentence statement gave no details of possible penalties or a timeline to announce a result.

Chinese leaders said earlier an economic priority in the coming year will be to step up anti-monopoly enforcement. They appear to be especially concerned about tightening control over Alibaba and other dominant internet companies that are expanding into finance, health care and other businesses.

Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, is China’s richest entrepreneur and one of the country’s best-known figures.

Regulators earlier forced the suspension of the stock market debut of Ant Group, an online finance platform spun off from Alibaba.

A separate announcement Thursday said officials of Ant had been summoned to meet with regulators.

Alibaba 9988, -8.13% BABA, +0.14%, the world’s biggest e-commerce company by total sales volume, and another company were fined in mid-December for failing to apply for official approval before proceeding with some acquisitions.

In November, the government released proposed regulations aimed at preventing anti-competitive behavior by internet companies such as signing exclusive contracts and using subsidies to squeeze out competitors.

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