CX Daily: China Launches Antitrust Probe Into Alibaba
Beijing launches antitrust probe into Alibaba
China’s market regulator launched a probe into e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as part of a growing antitrust drive targeting the country’s sprawling internet sector.
The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said in a one-line statement (link in Chinese) Thursday that it was investigating the company for alleged monopolistic practices.
It specifically cited Alibaba’s practice of forcing merchants to “pick a side,” meaning to work with it exclusively and shun its rivals. Two of those rivals, including JD.com Inc, and Pinduoduo Inc., have both complained about the practice.
FINANCE & ECONOMY
Top financial watchdogs to lecture Ant Group on regulation, consumer rights
China’s top financial regulators plan to hold talks with fintech giant Ant Group Co. Ltd. on financial regulation, fair competition and protection of consumer interests, the central bank said Thursday.
The move comes less than two months after regulators suspended Ant Group’s potentially record-breaking IPO in early November amid concerns over the company’s highly leveraged online lending business and its potential threats to financial stability.
The new meeting with regulators aims to provide guidance to Ant Group, the fintech affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., over compliance with financial supervision, according to a statement (link in Chinese) released by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).
China shouldn’t withdraw stimulus too soon, World Bank warns
China should maintain accommodative monetary policy and avoid any “significant contraction” in fiscal policy next year to keep its economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic on track, according to the World Bank.
“A premature policy exit and excessive tightening could derail the recovery,” the World Bank said in an economic update on China issued Wednesday. The world’s second-largest economy will grow 2% this year and 7.9% in 2021, and the biggest risk to the outlook remains a resurgence of coronavirus, the institution said.
China’s Communist Party signaled at an annual economic conference last week that it will reduce some stimulus measures as the economy has resumed growth, saying it will avoid “sharp turns” in policy.
Opinion: What China should do next to globalize the yuan
"As China contained the epidemic earlier, its economy has seen the strongest recovery, and the yuan has performed strongly," wrote Gao Zhanjun, former managing director of Citic Securities Co. Ltd., in an article. "Against this backdrop, discussion of how to promote the internationalization of the yuan has once again heated up."
"China needs to make greater efforts to improve the depth, breadth and liquidity of domestic financial markets," wrote Gao. "It also needs to make the exchange-rate mechanism more flexible and expand financial opening. At the same time, China should further improve the infrastructure for cross-border settlements using the yuan and actively explore the potential role of its digital currency to facilitate internationalization of the currency."
ICBC president will be chairman of Agricultural Bank of China
The president of the world’s largest bank will take over as chairman of Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. (ABC), sources with knowledge of the issue told Caixin.
Gu Shu, president of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC), the world’s largest commercial lender by assets, was named Communist Party chief of ABC Thursday, and will take the chairman’s position after regulatory and corporate approval, the sources said. Gu, 53, has worked at ICBC since 1998, where he headed several departments and overseas units, including those in London and Argentina. He took the president’s position in 2016.
Bank of China names EVP Sun Yu to lead Hong Kong unit
Quick hits /
Cotton futures rise with Chinese purchases pacing U.S. exports
Year in Review: 2020 exposes gray rhino risks in China’s financial sector
BUSINESS & TECH
A China Southern cargo plane sits docked on Aug. 11 at Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong province.
China Southern Airlines’ cargo arm becomes last of big three to let in private investors
The cargo arm of China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd. raised 3.35 billion yuan ($512 million) through a share sale, as part of a government-supported mixed ownership reform program that aims to reduce the carrier’s financing costs by bringing in private backers.
Seven private and Chinese state-backed investors — including Singapore-based logistics investment firm GLP Pte. Ltd. and Hong Kong-listed logistics company Sinotrans Ltd. — will hold a 40.5% share in China Southern Cargo Ltd., according to a statement filed by its parent to the Shanghai Stock Exchange Tuesday. Employees of the cargo company will now collectively hold a 4.5% share.
Three-quarters of the takings will be used as capital reserves, while the rest will be added to the company’s registered capital, said the statement. China Southern Airlines remains the controlling shareholder with a 55% stake, down from 100% prior to the deal.
Two-decade run on Wall Street nears end for internet trailblazer Sina
Shareholders of internet portal Sina Corp. approved a management-led plan to take the company private by a large margin, moving China’s oldest U.S.-listed internet company one step closer to ending its life as a publicly traded name.
Sina was a pioneer when it made its Nasdaq IPO in April 2000, using an unusual structure at the time to get around China’s unease over foreign ownership of internet companies. Since then nearly all of China’s hundreds of venture-backed tech companies that have floated in New York and Hong Kong have used a similar structure, called variable interest entity (VIE).
But while newer, more nimble names have emerged over the years, Sina has remained relatively stagnant despite its reputation as one of the nation’s leading web portals. Its one notable success was the Twitter-like Weibo it launched about a decade ago.
China suspends round-trip flights to U.K. over new Covid-19 strain
China joined dozens of countries in suspending round-trip flights with the U.K. after two highly transmissible new variants of the Covid-19 virus were found to be spreading in the country.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a press conference Thursday that China will closely monitor the virus situation and adjust relevant control measures accordingly.
Previously, some Chinese airlines, including Sichuan Airlines and China Southern Airlines, have halted flights between the two countries.
China Southern Airlines halts U.K. flights citing virus mutation
Dispute over writings of towering figure in U.S.-China diplomacy upends auction
Chinese authorities ordered a Beijing auction house to suspend a major sale of diaries, letters and other written works penned by former U.S. Ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart, amid a dispute over who owns the documents.
Beijing Yongle International Auction Co. Ltd. confirmed Friday that the sale had been halted. People with knowledge of the matter told Caixin that the incident centers on a squabble between Yan Ming, an antiques dealer, and the descendants of Fu Jingbo, Stuart’s former private secretary.
While Yan claims to have purchased the documents from a member of the Fu family seven years ago, the family alleges that he borrowed but never returned them.
Quick hits /
Regulator fines livestream operator for selling fake bird’s nests
Haier Smart Home’s H-shares debut on Hong Kong stock exchange
Walmart closes Guangzhou store, further downsizing China footprint
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