China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has issued a RMB 3.44 billion ($533 million) fine to food-delivery giant Meituan for anti-competitive practices after a months-long antitrust probe, reports Caixin. The fine was calculated as 3% of the company’s domestic sales for 2020, a relatively lenient penalty, according to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, which sets fines on abuse of market dominance at up to 10% of a firm’s revenue for the previous year.
Meituan will also have to return RMB 1.29 billion of merchant deposits which were taken as part of exclusivity agreements that the regulator ruled unlawful. The firm was also ordered to improve its commission mechanism, protect the interests of businesses on the platform and the rights of delivery drivers, and submit self-inspection and compliance reports to SAMR for three consecutive years, according to a post on SAMR’s official WeChat account.
SAMR began investigating Meituan in April over abuses of its dominance in China’s online food delivery market, including practices known as “picking sides,” in which a platform forces merchants to work exclusively with it and shun competitors.