China slaps Vipshop with $464,000 fine in clampdown on anti-competitive behaviour

Brooke Lark/Unsplash

Chinese regulators have hit online discount retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd with a 3 million yuan ($464,000) fine, the biggest to date in a recent clampdown on anti-competitive behaviour among internet firms.

In a sign that regulators are increasingly willing to use more tools in a newfound zeal to rein in monopolistic behaviour in the tech sector, Vipshop was punished for violations of a law prohibiting unfair competition, which allows for fines of up to 5 million yuan.

By comparison, other firms that have been hit with penalties since late last year were fined under China’s 2008 anti-monopoly law, which allows for a much lower maximum fine of 500,000 yuan.

The Vipshop fine comes on the heels of State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) publishing updated guidelines on how the anti-monopoly law affects internet firms, which said regulators were keen to prevent price fixing as well as the use of data and algorithms to manipulate the market.

SAMR said on Monday that from August through December last year, Vipshop had developed a system to obtain information on brands that gave Vipshop a competitive advantage. It added that Vipshop used its system to influence user choices, transaction opportunities and to block sales of particular brands.

New York-listed Vipshop, which has a market value of about $22 billion, said on Monday that it accepted SAMR’s findings and would strengthen compliance.

The heightened scrutiny by Chinese regulators since December has included the announcement of a probe into e-commerce giant Alibaba, penalising Alibaba-backed and Tencent-backed firms for not seeking anti-trust reviews for deals, while other firms have also been fined for irregular pricing.

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.