Tencent and Baidu Fined by Antitrust Regulator For Previous Deals
Pony Ma’s Tencent is being fined 500,000 yuan ($77,000) for its 2018 investment in online education app Yuanfudao, according to a statement by the State Administration for Market Regulation on Friday.
China’s antitrust regulator fined some of its largest tech giants including Tencent Holdings Ltd., Baidu Inc., ByteDance Ltd. and Didi Chuxing for past acquisitions and investments as it stepped up its crackdown on the sector.
Pony Ma’s Tencent is being fined 500,000 yuan ($77,000) for its 2018 investment in online education app Yuanfudao, according to a statement by the State Administration for Market Regulation on Friday. Baidu was fined the same amount for its 2014 takeover of Ainemo Inc., a maker of consumer electronics including voice-controlled speakers. The firms are being censured for not seeking prior approvals for the deals — a violation of country’s anti-monopoly laws — though the regulator had determined the deals themselves aren’t anti-competitive.
Tencent and Baidu join fellow behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in coming under fire from the country’s powerful antitrust regulator, as Beijing steps up efforts to rein in its once free-wheeling technology industry. The regulator had last year issued fines against Alibaba as well as Tencent unit China Literature Ltd. for similar violations.
“The message is clear that seeking government approvals in deals like these are a must.” said Ye Han, a partner at Beijing-based law firm Merits & Tree, who specializes in antitrust and M&A. “While we haven’t seen cases where companies got broke up or mergers got unwinded, such evaluations are likely going on behind the scene.”