General

Cina asks Alibaba to divest media assets: report

Beijing has asked Chinese e-commerce
titan Alibaba to divest its assets in the media sector out of concern over
the company’s growing public influence, The Wall Street Journal reported
Monday.

Its founder Jack Ma, the ebullient and unconventional billionaire who
officially retired from Alibaba in 2019 but remains a large shareholder, has
been in authorities’ crosshairs in recent months.

In November, Chinese regulators halted a colossal $34 billion IPO by Ant
Group, an Alibaba subsidiary for online payments. The following month,
regulators opened an investigation into Alibaba business practices deemed
anti-competitive.

Now authorities are asking the tech giant to drastically reduce its
presence in the media sector, the Journal said, citing people familiar with
the matter.

Alibaba is most notably the owner of Hong Kong’s leading English-language
daily, the South China Morning Post. It also has stakes in China’s popular
Twitter-like Weibo social media platform and online video platform Bilibili,
as well as other media and advertising.

Chinese leaders are worried about growing influence on public opinion
exerted by the company founded by Ma, the Journal reported.

The government didn’t specify whether Alibaba was requested to completely
withdraw from the media or divest part of its shares.

On Friday, the Journal reported that Alibaba risks being slapped with a
record fine in China for anti-competitive practices, which could exceed the
$975 million paid by US chip maker Qualcomm in 2015, the biggest anti-
monopoly fine imposed by Beijing to date.

According to the article, authorities accuse Alibaba of preventing
merchants who sell goods on the platform from also selling on rival websites.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)