China Imposes Nearly US$1.5 Billion in Fines on Tencent, Ant Group

China has imposed hefty fines on tech giants Tencent and Alibaba’s fintech arm Ant Group for multiple violations, signaling a close to the regulatory crackdown on the sector.

Ant Group and its subsidiaries were slapped with a 7.123 billion yuan (approximately US$1 billion) fine while Tencent as well as its payments subsidiary Tenpay will have to fork out 2.99 billion yuan (US$413 million).

The People’s Bank of China said that these entities had violated several laws including Anti-Money Laundering, banking supervision, insurance, securities investment fund, consumer rights protection and more.

The central bank added that it had supervised and guided Ant Group, Tencent Group and other companies to “comprehensively rectify the violations of laws and regulations in financial activities” since November 2020.

Alibaba Group and Tencent shares rose on Monday after the announcement broke out.

Tencent said in a statement,

“The company believes the financial regulators will focus on normalised regulation going forward, implementing financial policies and measures to promote the healthy development of the platform economy, and supporting and encouraging platform companies to continue their efforts in financial inclusion.”

The regulatory crackdown for the past three years had dealt a major blow to Ant Group resulting in a last-minute cancellation of its much-anticipated US$37 billion IPO with its founder Jack Ma ceding control of the company. The firm underwent a major restructuring exercise that saw Ma’s voting rights falling from more than 50% to 6.2%.

Now that the crackdown seems to be over, Ant Group is proposing to buy back as much as 7.6 percent of shares. This would value the company at about 567.1 billion yuan (US$78.5 billion), almost 70% lower than the valuation during its planned IPO.

Ant is looking to retain its talent and provide its investors with the option of selling up to 7.6 percent of their equity rather than cashing out completely with this move.


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