Chinese authorities summoned Alibaba, Tencent, ByteDance and eight other local tech firms over concerns of ‘deepfake’ tech on their content platforms. The country’s cyberspace administrator, in a statement, said that the officials of the public security ministry had a meeting with the tech firms to discuss “security assessments” and potential problems with deepfakes and audio social apps. Deepfakes use AI to create hyper-realistic but fake videos or audios.
Ant Group’s global investors, as per news agency Reuters, have valued the China-based fintech giant at over $200 bn. The calculation is based on Alibaba backed company’s 2020 performance. The valuation is 33% above Ant’s 2018 fundraising, but far below the $315 bn, had the company was listed in “the world’s largest IPO”. Investor and experts had hoped for a huge crashed after the authorities scuppered the $37 bn IPO days ahead of listing in Nov.
Beijing has asked Alibaba to dispose of its media assets, said a Wall Street Journal report. Alibaba, having a key interest in online retail, has stakes in Chinese Twitter- called Weibo, Hong Kong-based newspaper South China Morning Post and others. The report said that the Chinese government see such influence as a potential challenge to the Chinese Communist Party authority and its own powerful propaganda assets.
Tencent has been put on notice by the Chinese authorities. The conglomerate was censured by the local antitrust watchdog on Friday. Media reports suggest that the token fine was just a beginning, as Tencent is said to be the next in line for larger scrutiny after the clampdown on Ant Group. Ant and Tencent, reports said, will set an example by the authorities for other fintech players. Tencent, Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu together control over 40 financial licenses.
The Tata group is acquiring 68 % stake in online grocery platform BigBasket for around ₹9,500 cr as it bids to expand in the fast-growing e-comm space in India. The deal provides an exit route for a host of investors of BigBasket, including Chinese billionaire Jack Ma-controlled Alibaba. Tata group’s acquisition puts the enterprise value of BigBasket at over ₹13,500 cr. The move comes at a time when the group is working to develop a super app in the world’s second-largest internet market.
China has released new anti-monopoly rules for internet platforms, further tightening existing restrictions for internet firms. The new set of rules bar firms from a few behaviours, including forcing merchants to choose between China’s top internet players. The guidelines are expected to put new pressure on — Alibaba Group’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces or JD.com, Ant Group’s Alipay, Tencent Holding’s WeChat Pay.
China has launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group and will summon the Ant Group affiliate to meet. The probe is part of a crackdown on monopolistic behaviour in the country’s booming internet industry, and the latest setback for Ma, China’s most famous entrepreneur. Last month, China suspended Ant’s planned $37 bn IPO, which was on the track to become the world’s largest, just two days before the official launch in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
China’s Ant Group is considering selling its 30% stake, worth around $ 4.8bn, in Paytm amid tensions between the two Asian neighbours, said news agency Reuters. Financial details of the possible transaction were not known and the Alibaba-backed firm is yet to launch a formal sale process. Paytm was valued at about $16 bn during its latest fundraising a year ago. Both Ant and Paytm said that the information was incorrect.
Alibaba Cloud remained the number one player in the China Cloud services market in Q3 with a 41% market share. The China Cloud infrastructure spend grew 65% in Q3 2020 to exceed $5 bn for the first time, said research firm Canalys. Total expenditure was over $750 mn higher than in the Q2 and nearly $2 bn more than in Q3 2019. Huawei Cloud (16%), Tencent Cloud (16%) and Baidu AI Cloud (7%) were the other top players in the segment.