Alibaba’s legal woes look far from over

China’s top e-commerce firm Alibaba was hit with a $2.75bn fine for antitrust violations. But this may not be the end of the matter, with regulators expressing concerns about its non-core businesses.

Shares in China’s top e-commerce firm Alibaba jumped by 10% after it received a $2.75bn fine for antitrust violations, says Callum Jones in The Times. Officials “could have fined the company more than twice that amount”. The antitrust probe concerned claims that the firm “abused its market dominance” by forcing merchants “to choose between doing business on its platforms and others”. It was launched just after Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma (pictured) vanished from public view for months last autumn after criticising the Chinese government.

Investors clearly think the fine is a price worth paying for Alibaba to put its legal woes behind it, especially since it is only “about 4% of domestic sales in 2019” says Lex in the Financial Times. But this may not be the end of the matter. Regulators have “voiced concerns” about Alibaba’s non-core businesses. What’s more, to remain in Beijing’s “good books”, Alibaba will have to spend more on “corporate good deeds... that support small businesses in rural regions”, lowering profits. 

US giants such as Amazon should take note, says Gina Chon on Breakingviews. The fine shows that “it’s possible to define the market and single out data usage in ways that US regulators haven’t yet managed to do, but could”. Third-party merchants say Amazon “unfairly competes” against them when it “sells its own products using information gleaned from its platform”. Still, for now Amazon’s position seems secure, since US courts tend to be relaxed about such behaviour if it enhances “consumer welfare” by keeping prices low.

Recommended

Imperial Brands has an 8.3% yield – but what’s the catch?
Share tips

Imperial Brands has an 8.3% yield – but what’s the catch?

Tobacco company Imperial Brands boasts an impressive dividend yield, and the shares look cheap. But investors should beware, says Rupert Hargreaves. H…
20 May 2022
What's behind Sri Lanka’s crippling debt crisis?
Emerging markets

What's behind Sri Lanka’s crippling debt crisis?

Sri Lanka has been hit by a triple whammy of economic shocks and has gone to the IMF for a bailout. It may just be the first domino to fall in a globa…
20 May 2022
Investing in drugmakers: uncommon profits from curing rare diseases
Share tips

Investing in drugmakers: uncommon profits from curing rare diseases

Treatments for medical conditions with only a small number of sufferers can still be very attractive for pharmaceutical companies and investors becaus…
20 May 2022
Share tips of the week – 20 May
Share tips

Share tips of the week – 20 May

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.
20 May 2022

Most Popular

The ten highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100
Income investing

The ten highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100

Rupert Hargreaves looks at the FTSE 100’s top yielding stocks for income investors to consider.
18 May 2022
Aviva: a share for income investors to tuck away
Share tips

Aviva: a share for income investors to tuck away

Insurance giant Aviva is one of the highest yielding stocks in the FTSE 100 – and it’s cheap, too, making it a tempting target for income investors. R…
18 May 2022
Despite the crypto crash, bitcoin still has a bright future
Bitcoin & crypto

Despite the crypto crash, bitcoin still has a bright future

Cryptocurrencies have crashed hard, with bitcoin down by more than 50% from its peak. But, says Dominic Frisby, bitcoin still has a future – it is the…
19 May 2022