China summons tech giant Alibaba, launches antitrust probe

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In the latest blow for Jack Ma’s e-commerce and fintech empire, China has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group and will summon the tech giant’s Ant Group affiliate to meet in coming days, Reuters reported.

The probe is part of an accelerating crackdown on monopolistic behaviour in China’s booming internet space.

Ant’s planned $37 billion initial public offering was suspended by China which had been on track to be the world’s largest, just two days before shares were due to begin trading in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“Monopoly is tolerated, and companies are allowed to expand in a disorderly and barbarian manner, the industry won’t develop in a healthy, and sustainable way,” said the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily.

Shares in Alibaba fell nearly 9% in Hong Kong on Thursday morning.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), on Thursday, said in a statement that it had launched a probe into the practice.

Financial regulators will also meet with Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech affiliate in the coming days, according to a separate statement by the People’s Bank of China on Thursday, casting another cloud over a potential revival of the share sale.

Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in e-commerce, retail, internet and technology with an annual turnover of over $72 billion.