China's market regulator announced on Saturday that it was fining Alibaba, Baidu, and JD.com for failing to report 43 agreements to authorities dating back to 2012, alleging that they breached anti-monopoly laws.
The companies implicated in the instances will be penalized a maximum of CNY 500,000 apiece, according to the statement, which is the highest amount allowed under China's 2008 Anti-Monopoly Law. Requests for comment from Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com, and Geely were not immediately returned. China has tightened its hold on internet platforms, reversing a previously lax stance and citing the possibility of exploiting market dominance to restrict competition, abuse of customer data, and violations of consumer rights as reasons.
The first contract reported was a joint venture between Baidu and a partner in 2012, while the most recent was a 2021 agreement between Baidu and Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings to form a new-energy vehicle firm. Alibaba's 2014 acquisition of Chinese digital mapping and navigation startup AutoNavi and its 2018 purchase of a 44 percent interest in Ele.me to become the food delivery service's largest shareholder, according to the State Administration of Market Supervision.
The agreements, on the other hand, did not have the effect of eliminating or restricting competition, according to the regulator. It punished Alibaba, Tencent-backed China Literature, and Shenzhen Hive Box CNY 500,000 apiece in December last year for failing to properly submit earlier transactions for antitrust reviews, the first time it had ever done so.