Chinese tech firm Alibaba investigated for monopolistic practices

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Tech firm Alibaba is being investigated for monopolistic practices by Chinese regulators.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulations (SAMR) made the announcement on Thursday.

Regulators have previously warned Alibaba about forcing merchants to sign exclusive deals, which prevent them from offering products on rival platforms.

This is the second such scrutiny Alibaba has faced in the last month as in November; the Ant group, which was previously called Alipay, was forced to delay its stock market listing which would have been the biggest the world has ever seen.

Regulators prevented the IPO from going ahead due to concerns over its micro-lending services.

The “choosing one from two practice”, which is at the center of attention, requires merchants to sign cooperation agreements which would prevent them from advertising goods on other platforms.

 The Chinese government is ramping up the pressure on tech firms, which are increasing in size and power.

These include the previously mentioned Alibaba and Tencent.

Regulators are worried about the millions of users they have amassed and the influence they have over daily life in China, including shopping and payments.

Critics however argue that Alibaba founder Jack Ma is paying the price for comments he made in October that were critical of the Chinese system.

At the time, Ma, one of the richest man in China, said Chinese banks operated with a “pawnshop” mentality.”

Since then, tough new antitrust rules have also been introduced across the tech sector and have triggered a decline of about $140bn (£103bn), or 17%, in the market value of Mr Ma’s Alibaba.

However, the Peoples Bank of China said the meeting with the Ant Group is to “guide Ant Group to implement financial supervision, fair competition and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.”