Alibaba shares fall in Hong Kong as China launches antitrust probe

BEIJING – Chinese regulators on Thursday announced an anti-monopoly investigation by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which intensified official efforts to tighten controls on China’s fast-growing technology industries.

The market regulator said it examined Alibaba’s “choose one of two” policies, which require business partners to avoid dealing with competitors. The statement of a sentence gave no details about possible sanctions or a timeline for announcing a result.

Chinese leaders have previously said an economic priority in the coming year will be to increase monopoly enforcement. They appear to be particularly concerned about tightening controls on Alibaba and other dominant internet companies expanding into finance, healthcare and other businesses.

Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, is China’s richest entrepreneur and one of the country’s most famous people.

Regulators forced earlier suspension of stock market debut by Ant Group, an online financing platform spun off from Alibaba.

A separate announcement Thursday said Ant officials had been summoned to meet with regulators.

Alibaba 9988,

+ 0.14%,
the world’s largest e-commerce company by total sales volume, and another company was fined in mid-December for not applying for official approval before proceeding with any acquisitions.

In November, the government published proposals for rules aimed at preventing anti-competitive behavior from Internet companies such as signing exclusive contracts and using subsidies to blackmail competitors.