China’s Alibaba says to lower entry barriers after record antitrust fine

(Reuters) -Alibaba Group will introduce measures to lower entry barriers and business costs faced by merchants on e-commerce platforms, CEO Daniel Zhang said on Monday, after an antitrust probe found the firm had abused its dominant market position.

China on Saturday imposed a record 18 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) fine on Alibaba amid a crackdown on technology conglomerates, signalling a new era after years of laissez-faire approach.

The e-commerce giant has come under intense scrutiny since billionaire founder Jack Ma’s public criticism of the Chinese regulatory system in October.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said it had determined Alibaba, which is listed in New York and Hong Kong, had prevented its merchants from using other online e-commerce platforms.

The group does not expect any material impact on its business from the change of exclusivity arrangement imposed by regulators, Zhang said in an online briefing.

Alibaba and its peers remain under review for mergers and acquisitions from the market regulator, Vice Chairman Joe Tsai told the briefing, adding he was not aware of any other anti-monopoly-related investigations.

The impact of the regulator’s fine on Alibaba will be reflected in the group’s net income in the March quarter, Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said.