China To Conduct More Investigations Into Antitrust & Mergers

China’s antitrust watchdog is adding new staff and departments amid the latest development in the country’s ongoing battle against monopolies.

As Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday, October 12, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) will hire more members for its anti-monopoly bureau, and will split that agency into three arms focused on antitrust investigations, market competition and mergers oversight.

Sources told Bloomberg that the SAMR plans to increase the number of antitrust officials from its current level of 40+ to 100, aiming to have a staff of 150 in five years. SAMR did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the report stated.

China has been ramping up its antitrust efforts in the private sector, particularly in digital spaces. SAMR has already levied billions in fines against massive companies like Alibaba Group Holding, which received a US$2.8 billion antitrust penalty in April.

In addition, the food delivery platform Meituan is under investigation for alleged anticompetitive behavior. China has also stepped up efforts to slow down mergers and public offerings. Tencent’s merger with Huya and DouYu was halted, as was Ant Group’s initial public offering (IPO).

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for more antitrust enforcement to ensure fair competition and to level rising inequalities.

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