Tencent, Six Others Slapped With Anti-Monopoly Fines for Unauthorized M&A
What’s new: The State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) announced (link in Chinese) Friday that seven companies, including internet titan Tencent Holdings Ltd., have been fined for violating the Anti-Monopoly Law in nine acquisition or joint venture deals they made without getting regulatory permission in advance.
The companies were penalized for not seeking prior approval for the deals, though the SAMR determined that the transactions themselves weren’t anti-competitive.
Tencent was fined 500,000 yuan ($77,200) for each of the two cases that the SAMR investigated.
In June, Tencent acquired a stake in Bitauto Holdings Ltd., a New York-listed online automotive advertising service provider, bringing its total holding in the company to 68.18%, the regulator said. In July 2018, Tencent reached an agreement to acquire 13.88% of Shanghai Lantu Information Technology Co. Ltd., which operates automobile maintenance platform Tuhu, bringing its total ownership stake in the company to 18.34%.
The background: As part of a sweeping crackdown on anti-competitive behavior by China’s big tech companies, the SAMR issued new guidelines on Feb. 7 for the “platform economy” that bring several grey areas of business under its regulatory purview.
The SAMR’s latest move is only part of a series of actions it has recently taken against monopolistic practices of internet titans. On Thursday, the country’s financial regulators summoned 13 tech companies including Tencent and ByteDance Ltd. to a meeting, where they imposed a raft of requirements on the companies’ financial businesses in an expanded effort to rein in the rapidly growing fintech sector.
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