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The Hit List: How China’s Crackdowns Have Cost Its Firms Billions

Beijing’s assault on its free market success stories as it attempts to level the playing field in pursuit of the goal of ‘common prosperity’ has claimed some high-profile victims

Participants wave national flags as balloons are released at the end of the event marking the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in July. Photo: Reuters

 

China’s regulatory crackdown has seen its technology, education and property sectors, among others, targeted by the rule makers, wiping hundreds of billions off the market capitalisation of some of the country’s largest companies and worrying investors about who might be next.

Here are some of the biggest names that have been affected so far:

 

ALIBABA GROUP

The woes of China’s biggest e-commerce company began in late 2020 when China abruptly suspended the record $37 billion stock market debut of its financial affiliate Ant Group and later fined Alibaba $2.75 billion for abusing its market dominance. 

The company’s US-listed shares have shed more than $400 billion in value since late October, when its founder Jack Ma made a speech that blasted China’s regulatory system, which is widely regarded as the trigger for the government backlash that followed.  

Alibaba’s sprawling empire of businesses has continued to face heat from regulators, over issues ranging from their use of algorithms, to consumer privacy and worker protections. 

 

TENCENT HOLDINGS

China’s largest gaming and social media company has lost more than HK$2.7 trillion ($347.13 billion) in market value since its shares reached an all-time high in mid-February. 

The company has been fined for failing to report past deals to antitrust regulators, its $5.3 billion plan to merge China’s top two videogame streaming sites was blocked and it has been barred from entering music copyright agreements. 

Tencent has also been affected by China’s latest efforts to combat gaming addiction among minors. In August under-18s were banned from playing video games for more than three hours a week.

 

DIDI GLOBAL

China’s largest ride-hailing company became the target of a cybersecurity investigation by Chinese authorities days after its New York initial public offering in June. Officials ordered its app to be removed from Chinese app stores and barred it from registering new users. 

Its shares have lost about $37 billion, or more than 40%, of their value since it raised $4.4 billion from its June 30 IPO. 

The company has also been criticised by state media over how it pays its drivers. Recently, there was a report that Didi is in talks with state-owned Westone Information Industry Inc to handle its data management and monitoring activities.

 

MEITUAN

The food delivery company became the target of an antitrust probe in April and experienced a sell-off in its shares a month later after its founder and chief executive Wang Xing posted an ancient poem on social media that was perceived by some as criticising the government and President Xi Jinping.

Meituan, whose shares have lost more than HK$1.2 trillion ($154.28 billion) in value since reaching their all time-high in February, has also been criticised on other matters, including treatment of its delivery riders and violation of consumer rights. 

 

NEW ORIENTAL EDUCATION & TECHNOLOGY GROUP

China’s largest provider of private educational services has seen the market value of its US-listed shares fall by $7.4 billion since July, when Beijing issued new rules barring for-profit tutoring on the school curriculum. 

Beijing wants to ease pressure on school children and reduce a cost burden on parents that has contributed to a drop in birth rates but analysts warn that the new rules threaten to decimate the country’s private education sector. 

The company and its peers have been since trying to promote alternative classes such as drama and even parental training.

 

  • Reuters and Sean O’Meara

 

Read more:

Tech Shares Dip With China Crackdown Set To Target EV Firms Next

China Gaming Shares Plunge as Beijing Tightens Regulatory Crackdown

China Says Crackdowns Essential to Protect Markets, Tame ‘Barbaric’ Tech Growth

Sean OMeara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

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