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China Fines Alibaba Record $2.8 Billion After Monopoly Probe

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China slapped a record $2.8 billion fine on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. after an anti-monopoly probe found it abused its market dominance, as Beijing clamps down on its internet giants.

The 18.2 billion yuan penalty is triple the previous high of almost $1 billion that U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. had to pay in 2015, and was based on 4% of Alibaba’s 2019 domestic revenue, according to China’s antitrust watchdog. The company will also have to initiate “comprehensive rectifications,” from protecting merchants and customers to strengthening internal controls, the agency said in a statement on Saturday.

The fine — about 12% of Alibaba’s fiscal 2020 net income — helps remove some of the uncertainty that’s hung over China’s second-largest corporation. But Beijing remains intent on reining in its internet and fintech giants and is said to be scrutinizing other parts of billionaire founder Jack Ma’s empire, including Ant Group Co.’s consumer-lending businesses and Alibaba’s extensive media holdings.

Alibaba used its platform rules and technical methods like data and algorithms “to maintain and strengthen its own market power and obtain improper competitive advantage,” the State Administration for Market Regulation concluded in its investigation. The company will likely have to change a raft of practices, like merchant exclusivity, which critics say helped it become China’s largest e-commerce operation.

“The high fine puts the regulator in the media spotlight and sends a strong signal to the tech sector that such types of exclusionary conduct will no longer be tolerated,” said Angela Zhang, author of “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism” and director of Centre for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s a stone that kills two birds.”

Alibaba’s practice of imposing a “pick one from two” choice on merchants “shuts out and restricts competition“ in the domestic online retail market, according to the statement.

The government action sends a clear warning to the tech sector as the government scrutinizes the influence that companies like Alibaba and social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. wield over spheres from consumer data to mergers and acquisitions.

The investigation into Alibaba was one of the opening salvos in a campaign seemingly designed to curb the power of China’s internet leaders and their billionaire founders. The company has come under mounting pressure from authorities since Ma spoke out against China’s regulatory approach to the finance sector in October. Those comments set in motion an unprecedented regulatory offensive, including scuttling Ant Group Co.’s $35 billion initial public offering.

Alibaba said it will hold a conference call Monday morning Hong Kong time to address lingering questions around the antitrust watchdog’s decree.

“China’s record fine on Alibaba may lift the regulatory overhang that has weighed on the company since the start of an anti-monopoly probe in late December,” Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Vey-Sern Ling and Tiffany Tam said, describing the fine as a small price to pay to do away with that uncertainty.”

Further Action

Still, it remains unclear whether the watchdog or other agencies might demand further action. Regulators are said for instance to be concerned about Alibaba’s ability to sway public discourse and want the company to sell some of its media assets, including the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English-language newspaper.

The Hangzhou-based firm will be required to implement “comprehensive rectifications,” including strengthening internal controls, upholding fair competition, and protecting businesses on its platform and consumers’ rights, the regulator said. It will need to submit reports on self-regulation to the authority for three consecutive years.

“Alibaba accepts the penalty with sincerity and will ensure its compliance with determination. To serve its responsibility to society, Alibaba will operate in accordance with the law with utmost diligence, continue to strengthen its compliance systems and build on growth through innovation,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.

Faced Challenges

Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said in a memo to employees on Saturday that Alibaba always reflected and adapted when it faced challenges. He called for unity among staff, saying the company should “make self-adjustments and start over again.”

The Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper said in a commentary on Saturday that the punishment involves specific anti-monopoly measures regulatory authorities take to “prevent the disorderly expansion of capital.”

“It doesn’t mean denying the significant role of platform economy in overall economic and social development, and doesn’t signal a shift of attitude in terms of the country’s support to the platform economy,” the newspaper said. “Regulations are for better development, and ‘reining in’ is also a kind of love.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Konga Offers Discount On Back To School Items

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Konga, one of Nigeria’s leading e-commerce giants, has rolled out a mouth-watering 60% discount offer for students, parents, educational institutions and other categories of shoppers for its Back to School promotion.

The Konga Back to School promo runs from Monday, August 23 through Sunday, September 19, 2021.

The promotion has witnessed a throng of excited shoppers besieging the Konga website, and its network of retail stores spread across Nigeria for the month-long deals.

Checks indicate that early bird shoppers had quickly rushed to both platforms, including Konga Bulk from Monday morning when the promotion kicked off, with the majority of bargain-hunters comprising a mix of students, most of whom are set to return to school for the resumption of classes as well as other individuals and business owners looking for bulk purchases.

A number of inquiries have also been received by Konga from parents searching for specific items for their children and wards, in addition to concrete interest from schools and other educational institutions eager to close deals on computer systems, laptops, printers, stationery and other accessories.

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Konga Last Price Promo Holds On The Last Day of the 9th Anniversary Sales

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Konga Last Price- Investors King

Shoppers are in for more excitement as Konga, Nigeria’s foremost composite e-Commerce giant, prepares to draw the curtains on its 9th Anniversary sale with a special edition of its monthly online auction tagged – Konga Last Price.

The July edition of Konga Last Price holds on Monday, July 5, 2021.

Held on the first Monday of each month, Konga Last Price is a live auction pioneered by the e-Commerce group and held digitally across the company’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, among others. Interestingly, this edition of the special online auction will coincide with the climax of the 9th Anniversary sale, which kicked off on Friday, June 25 and which comes to an end on Monday, July 5.

To this effect, the management of Konga says it has put together a massive rollout of products for the online auction, with bid prices expected to start from highly discounted ranges.

Furthermore, Konga says it is using the auction, which will mark the end of the highly successful anniversary sale, as a final opportunity for shoppers who missed out on the special deals and offers that marked the promotion to grab some exciting deals. Top on the bill for items expected to go on auction on Monday are genuine products from Konga’s wide-ranging suite including Home & Kitchen, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Computing, Electronics, Fashion, Wine & Spirits and much more.

Also adding to the excitement for this special edition of Konga Last Price is the plan to make it a discount party to mark the end of the company’s anniversary sale.

‘‘The July edition of Konga Last Price is special for a number of reasons,’’ disclosed Kenny Oriola, VP, Konga Online. ‘‘Apart from the fact that it is clashing with the end of the 9th Anniversary sale – which has been a very successful outing for us – it is also the last chance for many shoppers who missed out on the anniversary deals.

‘‘Therefore, we are making it a discount party and an all-comers affair on Monday. The products have been carefully selected and we are offloading huge quantities on the day instead of single units. Those with the fastest fingers and quickest to make payment for the products on offer will benefit. You don’t want to miss it.

‘‘Interested shoppers are also advised to download KongaPay for seamless payments,’’ he enthused.

Continuing, Oriola expressed gratitude to Nigerians for the success of the 9th Anniversary sale, even as he revealed that many more exciting innovations are underway at Konga.

‘‘We are grateful to Nigerians for their patronage and loyalty to the Konga brand. Also, we are determined to keep justifying the faith reposed in our services with the rollout of more exciting innovations, some of which we will be unveiling soon,’’ he concluded.

The July edition of Konga Last Price goes live by 12 pm on Monday, July 5, 2021.

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Jiji Acquires Cars45 Expands Beyond its Classifieds Model

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Africa’s leading classified marketplace Jiji has acquired Cars45, Nigeria’s leading automotive trading platform.

In a conversation with TechCrunch, Vladimir Mnogoletniy, Jiji’s co-founder explained the thinking behind the accquisition move. It’s looking for opportunities outside of the classifieds business.

“In terms of classifieds, we’re looking at opportunities,” he explained, “but we are already a leader in Africa, so I think there’s very limited space for whom to acquire.

“However, we’re primarily interested in deals like Cars45, where we bring our leadership positions from classifieds and acquire very close business models that give us exposure to the transactional marketplace. So for us, a major interest will be to acquire adjacent business models.” 

He also pointed out that vehicle listing is the second most popular category on Jiji behind real estate. The platform’s total listing is worth over $10 billion, with real estate ($7 billion) and vehicles ($3 billion) making up the bulk of it.

“We have leading positions in all markets we’re present in and are definitely the classifieds leader in the region. Also, we are probably the largest e-commerce company in Africa by GMV,” he continued.

Why it matters

This acquisition will enable Cars45 to grow the vehicles category. Cars45 will merge its operations in its three African markets – Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, to increase efficiency. It will also give Jiji an upper hand in consolidating its position as the classifieds marketplace leader.

Over the years, Jiji has been plagued by trust and safety issues from users. The acquisition of Cars45 will help reduce this risk, as it offers a different car buying and selling experience via a transactional marketplace model.

Jiji will also leverage Cars45’s network of inspection centres where cars are inspected by more than 200 parameters. Unlike a classifieds marketplace where checks are inadequately carried out, transactional models employed by platforms like Cars45 ensure quality checks and detailed reports on a car’s condition with various databases.

Looking ahead

For Cars45, it has come a long way from first being owned by Frontier Cars Group (FCG) and then was acquired by OLX Group and now Jiji. This poses questions around whether the integration with its new owner Jiji will work out fine.

With Jiji’s new disposition towards looking outside of its normal classified business to expand its operations, I wonder whether another acquisition is around the corner? Considering the platform’s top listing categories, It could be a real estate company or another vehicle trading platform.

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