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Beijing issues fines for 43 Big Tech M&A deals all the way back to 2012

Alibaba and Tencent racked up more than ten cases – each

China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has fined tech giants 43 times – with Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent told to pay up for failing to declare deals deemed to violate anti-monopoly legislation.

According to SAMR, more rigorous anti-monopoly law enforcement has seen businesses file more paperwork, sometimes about past transactions. SAMR's own probes have spotted acquisitions that weren't reported at the time.

Those efforts turned up 43 transactions, conducted between 2012 and 2021, that violated China's 2008 Anti-Monopoly Law. Each count received a fine of ¥500,000 ($78,300). The regulatory body said that all were "assessed as having no effect of excluding or restricting competition".

The market regulator posted about the fines on its WeChat account and Weibo page on Saturday.

State-sponsored media Global Times reported that Alibaba and Tencent each racked up more than ten cases.

SAMR explained that by penalising companies for past violations, it would "continuously optimize the fair, transparent and predictable competitive environment, and effectively urge enterprises to enhance their compliance awareness and ability to promote the sustained and healthy development of enterprises and industries".

China's national anti-monopoly bureau was inaugurated on Thursday and guidelines for antitrust compliance of enterprises abroad were issued the same day.

The government in Beijing, and SAMR in particular, has been busy. Earlier this month the organization drafted new rules for internet platforms considered "super large" that hold them to higher standards than smaller, less influential ones in an attempt to stamp out anticompetitive behavior.

In September, the org ordered Alibaba, Tencent and more to stop blocking links to rivals. And it has been known to step in and outright ban mergers it deems imprudent.

Those new initiatives follow many others that appear to give China the power to rein in its big tech companies – often in ways that would prevent them from acquiring the kind of power that Western tech companies accumulated. Perhaps ironically, the USA is currently considering legislative restrictions on new acquisitions by its tech giants, on grounds that they use such transactions to curtail competition early. By fining its own tech giants for transactions nearly a decade in the past, China appears to be applying similar logic. ®

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