China tech stocks surge after food delivery giant Meituan is hit with $534 million antitrust fine

GUANGZHOU, China — Meituan shares surged over 7% on Monday, leading China technology stocks higher, after the food delivery giant was slapped with a fine as a result of an antitrust probe.

On Friday, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said Meituan abused its dominant position in the country’s online food delivery market. The market regulator said Meituan pushed merchants to sign exclusive cooperation agreements with them and carried out punitive measures for those that didn’t.

The SAMR slapped a 3.44 billion yuan ($534.3 million) fine on Meituan and ordered it to carry out rectification measures, concluding a months-long probe.

In a note on Sunday, investment bank Jefferies said the fine has removed an “overhang” on Meituan.

“We believe the SAMR decision addresses market concerns and Meituan (MT) has been communicating with authorities and upgrading its business operations,” Jefferies said.

Meituan was up more than 7% in early Hong Kong trade.

The fine equated to 3% of Meituan’s 2020 revenue.

In a separate anti-monopoly probe, Alibaba was slapped with a $2.8 billion fine — about 4% of 2019 revenue the e-commerce giant was forced to pay as part of an anti-monopoly investigation in April.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

Other Hong Kong-listed Chinese tech companies also rose in early trade. Tencent was higher by 3% while Alibaba jumped more than 6%.

“Overall the fact that Chinese equity markets are definitely … trading much more attractive relative to most other countries here in Asia,” Ken Wong, Asia equity portfolio specialist at Eastspring Investments, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday.

“Chinese markets … are trading at substantially lower valuation levels,” he said. “We are seeing investors bottom fishing a bit.”

Wong said that any positive sentiment coming out of China toward the technology sector should lead to “more buying” of the related stocks.

China has been increasing scrutiny on its domestic technology companies over the past year, wiping billions of dollars of value off tech stocks.

Regulators have focused on tightening rules around unfair competition and data protection but have even gone further than other jurisdictions by turning their attention to regulating algorithms.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: