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China has just imposed a record antitrust fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The company thanked the government and investors breathed a sigh of relief.
Alibaba’s American Depositary Receipts rose 9.3% Monday in New York, the largest increase in nearly four years. For Jack Ma, the founder of the e-commerce giant, that meant his net worth rose by $ 2.3 billion to $ 52.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The $ 2.8 billion fine is less than feared by some investors and is based on just 4% of the company’s domestic sales in 2019, far less than the 10% maximum allowed under Chinese law. While the internet giant needs to adjust its business operations, its vice chairman said regulators will not impose a radical overhaul of its e-commerce strategy, and its CEO said Alibaba was ready to move on.
“Alibaba would not have achieved our growth without solid government regulation and good service, and the critical supervision, tolerance and support of all of our constituents have been critical to our development,” the company said in an open letter. “We are full of gratitude and respect for that.”
Read also: Record Alibaba Fine shows that China’s big tech can’t fight back
Ma, who was China’s richest person until last year, has lost billions since his country’s regulators launched an anti-monopoly campaign and halted the IPO of his payment company Ant Group Co. just two days before it was scheduled to go public. He is now China’s third richest person after Zhong Shanshan of Nongfu Spring Co. mineral water company and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Pony Ma.
Regardless, the Chinese central bank has directed Ant to become a financial holding company that is regulated more like a bank. The move announced on Monday will have far-reaching implications for the company’s growth and ability to advance an IPO. Alibaba shares opened 3.4% higher in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
– With the support of Coco Liu
(Updates to include ants overhaul and warehouse move in the last paragraph)
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