The Chinese government has fined technology giant Alibaba Group RMB18.2 billion yuan ($3.73 billion), according to a statement posted on the website of China’s State Administration for Market Regulation.

The penalty is equivalent to around 4% of its domestic sales of RMB455.7 billion in 2019.

According to the regulator’s statement, since 2015, Alibaba has abused its market power, compelling ecommerce merchants using its platform to refrain from taking part in promotional activities on other ecommerce platforms. 

The regulator is taking a view that Alibaba has curbed the competitiveness of China’s domestic ecommerce market, hurt the rightful interests of merchants and consumers, and thereby constitute as flouting China’s anti-monopoly law. 

Alibaba founder Jack Ma and his related entities are under growing regulatory pressure in recent months, starting with the halt of the much-anticipated listing of Ant Group.


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Separately, according to the Financial Times on April 9, a Hangzhou-based business school founded by Ma has been told to stop enrolments. 

Hupan Academy, founded in 2015 by Ma to train China’s next generation of entrepreneurs, had suspended a first-year class scheduled to commence in late March.

The move was presumably meant to curb Ma’s influence.

In another recent related development, the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong newspaper owned by Alibaba, will be cutting 4%of its headcount.

The revamp will take effect from April 12, SCMP CEP Gary Liu said in a memo to staff seen by Bloomberg News.

An SCMP spokesperson told Bloomberg the cut is “categorically not a staff layoff exercise”, but meant to align resources and expertise with company goals.

Alibaba is coming under pressure from China to sell media assets, including the SCMP, on growing concerns about its influence.

Hong Kong-quoted Alibaba shares ended Friday at HK$218, down 2.24%.