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Delivery giant Meituan fined for technology crackdown in Beijing

Singapore — China’s food delivery giant Meituan was fined more than $ 533 million on Friday for engaging in anti-competitive practices.

China’s premier antitrust agency, the National Market Regulatory Authority, said Meituan violated antitrust law by effectively forcing merchants to sell exclusively on its platform.

These monopoly arrangements have forced many SMEs to choose the side of China’s highly competitive Internet retail industry, which has become central to Beijing’s recent regulatory action on tech companies. In April, authorities fined e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Record $ 2.8 billion To engage in practice.

Meituan, China’s largest food delivery and related service provider, said it had accepted the penalties “in good faith” and added that it would refrain from “erxuanyi” practices in the future.

Meituan, along with fellow Internet Jaguar Notes like Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd., has been hit hard by China’s efforts to intensify competition in the fast-growing consumer Internet space and regulate unfair practices. I did. In March, Meituan’s subsidiary was fined by Chinese antitrust authorities for failing to properly report investment transactions to authorities.

A month later, regulators began investigating Meituan on the suspicious “erxuanyi” monopoly practice. Since then, China’s third most valuable publicly traded internet company has also been accused of treating millions of contract delivery riders to hire.

In a statement on Friday, China’s antitrust regulators said the fine was set at about $ 17.8 billion, 3% of Meituan’s total domestic revenue last year. The company has also renewed its business and ordered it to submit a compliance report for the next three years.The Wall Street Journal Reported in August Antitrust regulators were preparing to fine the company about $ 1 billion.

Xu Xinming, a lawyer at Intellectual Property LawyersNet in China, a legal information platform, said that Meituan’s fines are lower than Alibaba’s because of its relatively short history of anti-competitive practices and with regulators. He said it was likely the result of his supportive attitude. Alibaba’s April fine was equivalent to 4% of its annual domestic sales.

Meituan was also ordered to return an “exclusive deposit” worth about $ 200 million to restaurants and supermarkets that sell food and other merchandise on the platform.

BOCOM International Holdings Co. Connie Gu, a Beijing-based Chinese internet sector analyst in Beijing, said Friday’s penalty would remove a major regulatory overhang that has cast a shadow over Meituan in recent months. Security and handling of its delivery driver. In an interview, Gu said these issues were long-term in nature and would not have the immediate financial consequences of an antitrust investigation.

Wang Xing, the founder of the company’s billionaire, has announced that it will donate more than $ 2 billion worth of Meituan shares to charitable organizations since regulators announced an investigation into Meituan. State priorities Education and scientific research. The Beijing-based company also said it has set up a special working group to investigate and address current labor and technology practices.

China’s antitrust campaign has already skyrocketed the stock of the largest tech company. Meituan’s stake fell about 43% from its February record high, bringing its market capitalization to about $ 200 billion.

Write to Lizarin Liza.Lin@wsj.com

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Delivery giant Meituan fined for technology crackdown in Beijing

Source link Delivery giant Meituan fined for technology crackdown in Beijing

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