Fintech firm Ant Group, an affiliate of Chinese ecommerce behemoth Alibaba, has been fined 7.1 billion yuan (approximately $982 million) by Chinese regulators for violating consumer protection and corporate governance laws and regulations, multiple sources report. Alibaba’s stock price has shot up on the news, with this latest fine being widely viewed as the final move in China’s three-year regulatory crackdown on tech.
That crackdown began in November 2020 when regulators forced Ant Group to cancel its widely anticipated IPO, which would have been the biggest in history, just days before launch. Then, in April 2021, Alibaba was fined a record 18 billion yuan (approximately $2.75 billion) for antitrust activities, followed by a series of additional fines and crackdowns on other Chinese tech firms.
Earlier this year Chinese regulators indicated openly that they would begin to relax their oversight of the tech sector as the country struggles to recover from the impact of its strict “zero COVID” policies.
Ant Group did not immediately respond to Retail TouchPoints’ request for comment, but the company said in a statement shared with multiple news outlets that it “has been conducting business rectification proactively since 2020” and plans to “comply with the terms of the [new] penalty in all earnestness and sincerity.”
The results of that rectification process have played out openly in the last several months. In January 2023, Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma ceded control of Ant Group (he had stepped down from Alibaba in 2019). Then in March 2023 Alibaba Group announced plans to restructure into six separate groups in an effort to “foster market competitiveness.”