CHINA STARTS ANTI-TRUST PROBE INTO PROPERTY GIANT KE HOLDINGS
China’s antitrust watchdog has launched an investigation into online property giant KE Holdings Inc., widening a crackdown into the country’s tech sector, Reuters reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) began a formal probe into whether KE forces developers to list housing information exclusively on its platforms including Lianjia and Beike, according to Reuters.
The tactic -- known as “pick one from two” -- was among violations that led to a record $2.8 billion fine for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in April, while Meituan is also being investigated for similar charges.
In a brief statement posted to Wechat, KE called reports that it was under probe “fake news.”
Reuters said SAMR didn’t respond to a request for comment. Since late April, the regulator has stationed inspectors in 17 so-called platform companies including KE to boost the efficiency of antitrust inspections, Reuters cited one person as saying.
News of the probe may add to uncertainties for KE, backed by some of Asia’s most influential startup investors including Hillhouse Capital, Tencent Holdings Ltd., and SoftBank Group Corp.
The company announced last week its billionaire founder Zuo Hui died of an unspecified illness, a shocking development for a firm that pulled off one of the strongest US market debuts of 2020. KE shares have retreated 15% this year, though it’s still up 160% since its listing, Bloomberg News also reported.
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