China app giant Meituan tumbles
SHANGHAI: Shares of Chinese online giant Meituan plummeted for a second straight day on Tuesday amid a run of bad headlines that included the CEO posting an ancient poem viewed as a veiled criticism of China’s government.
Meituan’s Hong Kong-listed shares closed more than five percent lower on Tuesday -- and down around 12 per cent since last week -- as investors bet it would become the next big Chinese tech company humbled by government regulators.
Beijing has moved aggressively to loosen Big Tech’s hold on the daily finances of consumers and -- analysts believe -- to curb the sector’s growing influence on society by using antimonopoly probes.
Regulators hit e-commerce titan Alibaba, co-founded by billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma, with a record $2.78 billion fine last month for abusing its market dominance with anticompetitive practices.
Two weeks ago regulators said they had also launched a similar probe of Meituan, a consumer lifestyle super-app through which users order consumer goods and book entertainment, health and leisure services.
Resulting pressure on Meituan shares turned into a rout ater CEO Wang Xing last Thursday posted on social media a classic ancient poem about the tyrannical rule of China’s first emperor, which was widely viewed as a swipe at authorities.
The current broad tech clampdown gained pace only ater Ma publicly criticised regulators in October, so Wang’s post sparked fears of similar retribution against Meituan.
Compounding Meituan’s troubles, an influential Shanghai consumer advocacy group on Monday accused the plaform of problems with refunds and misleading content on its mobile app.
“Using such a cryptic poem at such a sensitive time, investors will shiver in fright,” said a posting on Gelonghui, a popular stock-discussion account on China’s Twiter-like Weibo.t