Key events behind China's investigation into Alibaba

Key events behind China's investigation into Alibaba Group

Retail investors bid for a record $3 trillion worth of shares in Ant's dual listing

Representative Image. Credit: Reuters Photo

China has launched an investigation into Alibaba Group for suspected monopolistic behaviour and will summon its Ant Group to meet in coming days, regulators said, in the latest blow for Jack Ma's e-commerce and fintech empire.

Also read: China steps up pressure on Alibaba with anti-monopoly probe

Here's a timeline of key events leading up to the investigation.

September 14 - China rolls out new rules for financial holding firms

China issues new rules to regulate financial holding companies, with the central bank saying there had been a loophole in regulations for such companies.

Ant was among companies named by Pan Gongsheng, the People's Bank of China vice-governor.

October 21 - Ant wins green signal from regulator

Ant wins the final nod from China's top securities watchdog to register its Shanghai IPO, clearing the last regulatory hurdle for its issue.

October 24 - "Old man's club"

At a public event attended by Chinese regulators, Ma, China's richest man, said the financial and regulatory system stifled innovation and must be reformed to fuel growth. He also compared the Basel Committee of global banking regulators to "an old man's club".

October 26 - Ant wins backing of global strategic investors

Ant prices its IPO and secures the backing of strategic investors including a unit of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, as well as Singaporean and Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds, large Chinese insurers and mutual funds.

October 30 - Mom-and-pop investors bid $3 trillion for Ant's shares

Retail investors bid for a record $3 trillion worth of shares in Ant's dual listing, the equivalent of Britain's gross domestic product, as they bet on demand for Ant's financial technology services in China.

October 31 - Beijing flags concerns over fintech

China's Financial Stability and Development Committee, a cabinet-level body headed by Vice Premier Liu He, flags risks associated with the rapid development of fintech, at a meeting that was widely interpreted as a government response to the rise of players such as Ant.

November 2 - Regulators announce talks with Ant

Four of China's top financial regulators say they conducted regulatory talks with Ant's top two executives and Ma.

Chinese regulators recommend tighter regulations for online micro-lending companies to help contain potential financial risks and rein in rising debt levels.

November 3 - Shanghai IPO suspended; Ant freezes HK IPO

The Shanghai stock exchange suspends Ant's IPO on its tech-focused STAR Market, citing the regulatory talks as a "material event" and a tougher regulatory environment as factors that may disqualify Ant from listing.

The move prompted Ant to also freeze the Hong Kong leg of its dual listing.

November 10 - China publishes draft anti-monopoly rules for internet platforms

China published draft rules aimed at preventing monopolistic behaviour by internet platforms, a move that will increase scrutiny on e-commerce marketplaces and payment services belonging to the likes of Alibaba Group.

November 23 - Alibaba CEO says China's scrutiny of internet platforms is needed

China's increasing oversight of internet platforms is both "timely and necessary", Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang told the World Internet Conference.

December 14 - China fines deals involving Alibaba, Tencent

China warned its Internet giants it would not tolerate monopolistic practices and to brace for increased scrutiny, as it slapped fines and announced probes into deals involving Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.