By Callum Keown
China’s market regulator has imposed fines on some of the country’s biggest tech companies relating to 10 deals that violated anti-monopoly laws, it said on Friday.
Separately the watchdog is reportedly weighing a record fine of more than $975 million on Alibaba, according to the Wall Street Journal , as China’s antitrust crackdown continues. The reports have been denied by Beijing .
The State Administration of Market Supervision (SAMR) said it had issued 500,000 yuan ($77,000) fines to twelve companies , including WeChat owner Tencent /zigman2/quotes/207908563/composite TCEHY -1.17% , search engine Baidu /zigman2/quotes/209050136/composite BIDU +0.42% , ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and Japan’s SoftBank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 -0.80% .
The deals investigated by the watchdog include Tencent’s 2018 investment in online tutoring start-up Yuanfudao and Baidu’s 2014 acquisition of smart home robot manufacturer Ainemo.
A joint venture set up by Didi Mobility Pte, a unit of Didi Chuxing, and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank was also probed.
The investigation found that none of the deals eliminated or restricted competition, but that they all breached anti-monopoly rules by failing to notify the authorities.
The fines come as part of a wider antitrust crackdown by Beijing on China’s internet giants. In December the SAMR fined JD.com /zigman2/quotes/205122565/composite JD -2.56% , Alibaba /zigman2/quotes/201948298/composite BABA +0.33% /zigman2/quotes/215112034/delayed HK:9988 +1.57% and Vipshop 500,000 yuan each for pricing irregularities. The watchdog also opened an antitrust investigation into Jack Ma’s Alibaba at the end of last year shortly after Beijing halted the IPO of internet finance giant Ant Group.
The regulator released new anti-monopoly guidelines in February, following a draft law in November, tightening restrictions. The SAMR said the new rules would “stop monopolistic behaviours in the platform economy and protect fair competition in the market.”