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  • China Fines Alibaba Record $2.8 Billion After Monopoly Probe
    Business
    Bloomberg

    China Fines Alibaba Record $2.8 Billion After Monopoly Probe

    (Bloomberg) -- China slapped a record $2.8 billion fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. after an anti-monopoly probe found it abused its market dominance, as Beijing clamps down on its internet giants.The 18.2 billion yuan penalty is triple the previous high of almost $1 billion that U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. had to pay in 2015, and was based on 4% of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic revenue, according to China’s antitrust watchdog. The company will also have to initiate “comprehensive rectifications,” from protecting merchants and customers to strengthening internal controls, the agency said in a statement on Saturday.The fine -- about 12% of Alibaba’s fiscal 2020 net income -- helps remove some of the uncertainty that’s hung over China’s second-largest corporation. But Beijing remains intent on reining in its internet and fintech giants and is said to be scrutinizing other parts of billionaire founder Jack Ma’s empire, including Ant Group Co.’s consumer-lending businesses and Alibaba’s extensive media holdings.Alibaba used its platform rules and technical methods like data and algorithms “to maintain and strengthen its own market power and obtain improper competitive advantage,” the State Administration for Market Regulation concluded in its investigation. The company will likely have to change a raft of practices, like merchant exclusivity, which critics say helped it become China’s largest e-commerce operation.“The high fine puts the regulator in the media spotlight and sends a strong signal to the tech sector that such types of exclusionary conduct will no longer be tolerated,” said Angela Zhang, author of “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism” and director of Centre for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s a stone that kills two birds.”Alibaba’s practice of imposing a “pick one from two” choice on merchants “shuts out and restricts competition“ in the domestic online retail market, according to the statement.The government action sends a clear warning to the tech sector as the government scrutinizes the influence that companies like Alibaba and social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. wield over spheres from consumer data to mergers and acquisitions.The investigation into Alibaba was one of the opening salvos in a campaign seemingly designed to curb the power of China’s internet leaders and their billionaire founders. The company has come under mounting pressure from authorities since Ma spoke out against China’s regulatory approach to the finance sector in October. Those comments set in motion an unprecedented regulatory offensive, including scuttling Ant Group Co.’s $35 billion initial public offering.Alibaba said it will hold a conference call Monday morning Hong Kong time to address lingering questions around the antitrust watchdog’s decree.“China’s record fine on Alibaba may lift the regulatory overhang that has weighed on the company since the start of an anti-monopoly probe in late December,” Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Vey-Sern Ling and Tiffany Tam said, describing the fine as a small price to pay to do away with that uncertainty.”Further ActionStill, it remains unclear whether the watchdog or other agencies might demand further action. Regulators are said for instance to be concerned about Alibaba’s ability to sway public discourse and want the company to sell some of its media assets, including the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper.The Hangzhou-based firm will be required to implement “comprehensive rectifications,” including strengthening internal controls, upholding fair competition, and protecting businesses on its platform and consumers’ rights, the regulator said. It will need to submit reports on self-regulation to the authority for three consecutive years.“Alibaba accepts the penalty with sincerity and will ensure its compliance with determination. To serve its responsibility to society, Alibaba will operate in accordance with the law with utmost diligence, continue to strengthen its compliance systems and build on growth through innovation,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.(Updates with analyst’s comment from the fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Dividend stocks are out of favor, but here are 19 that Wall Street loves
    Business
    MarketWatch

    Dividend stocks are out of favor, but here are 19 that Wall Street loves

    With the S&P 500 Index hitting another record high April 9, there’s a lot of concern among investors that stock valuations relative to earnings have gotten too rich. Wall Street analysts — that is, the ones who work for brokerage firms — are known as “sell-side” analysts in the securities industry. There are majority “sell” ratings for only two companies: American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) and Lumen Technologies Inc. (LUMN) which was formerly known as CenturyLink before changing its name in October.

  • Levi's 'balloon jeans' emerge as the post pandemic hot style
    Business
    Yahoo Finance

    Levi's 'balloon jeans' emerge as the post pandemic hot style

    Levi's sees a pickup in its men's business as the pandemic starts to round the corner at long last. Here's what men are buying for their post-pandemic lives.

  • The Electric-Vehicle Future Is Nearly Here. This Overlooked Auto Components Giant Is Ready.
    Business
    Barrons.com

    The Electric-Vehicle Future Is Nearly Here. This Overlooked Auto Components Giant Is Ready.

    For all the hard-charging talk about electric cars, you might think that they were taking over the U.S. market. Electric cars there are suddenly 14% of the market, or 23% if we count plug-in hybrids that burn fossil fuel for backup. In the U.S., meanwhile, a $7,500 credit for every electric vehicle phases out after companies sell 200,000 of them, so (TSLA) (ticker: TSLA) and (GM) (GM), the biggest EV players, no longer benefit.