China launches antitrust probe into food delivery giant Meituan

China launched an antitrust investigation into food delivery giant Meituan, the market regulator said on Monday, the latest target in a crackdown on the country’s sprawling internet platform economy.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said in a statement that its investigaton was focused on the practice whereby a company forces vendors to use their platform exclusively, known as “choose one from two”.

Tencent-backed Meituan, which this month raised $10 billion in a stock and convertible bonds sale, said in a statement it would cooperate with the investigation and that its business was operating normally.

This month, SAMR imposed a record $2.75 billion fine on e-commerce giant Alibaba over the same practice and summoned 34 internet firms including Meituan to tell them to learn from Alibaba’s penalty and not use banned practices.

Meituan, which competes with Alibaba-backed Ele.me among others, had an estimated 68.2% of China‘s food delivery market in the second quarter of 2020, according to Trustdata. Meituan‘s businesses also include bike sharing, community group buying and restaurant reviews.

China has in recent months taken measures to rein in its once loosely-regulated internet economy in a clampdown backed by President Xi Jinping that has rattled the industry.

Zheng Wei, a partner with Beijing-based law firm Anli Partners, said regulators aimed to reduce the impact of dominant internet players on consumers, employees and smaller firms.

He told Reuters that “regulators aim to prevent internet platforms from using their dominant position to exert influence over governance, including legislative and judicial process.”

Reuters reported in April that SAMR was adding staff and other resources as China revamps its competition law with proposed amendments including a sharp increase in fines and expanded criteria for judging a company’s control of a market.

In March, Meituan was among five backers or owners of community group-buying platforms fined by SAMR over “improper pricing behaviour” related to subsidies.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.