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Alibaba Group Holding Limited Class Action Lawsuit

Company Name
Alibaba Group Holding Limited
Stock Symbol
BABA
Relevant Period
July 9, 2020 to December 23, 2020
Court
Southern District of New York

Case Summary

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP filed a class action charging Alibaba Group Holding Limited and certain of its executives with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, seeking to represent purchasers or acquirers of Alibaba American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”) between July 9, 2020 and December 23, 2020, inclusive (the “Class Period”).  The Alibaba class action lawsuit was commenced on January 7, 2021 in the Southern District of New York and is captioned Elissa Hess, as Trustee for The EH Living Trust v. Alibaba Group Holding Limited, No. 21-cv-00136.

Alibaba claims to be the largest e-retailer in the world and operates, among other online marketplaces, Tmall, an online and mobile commerce platform.  Alibaba also owns a 33% equity interest in Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co., Ltd. (“Ant Group”), a financial technology company best known for operating Alipay, a mobile and online payment platform.  On July 20, 2020, Ant Group announced it was preparing for its initial public offering (“IPO”), which aimed to raise $34 billion. 

Alibaba represented that the IPO would be a significant boon to Alibaba, as the market was purportedly “assigning very little value to [its] stake in Ant Group.”  However, the Alibaba class action lawsuit alleges that, unbeknownst to investors, Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma had structured Ant Group to evade critical Chinese banking regulations, including the requirement that Ant Group fund at least 30% of loans issued rather than the mere 2% it was currently funding.  In addition, as Alibaba built its e-commerce empire, it used its dominant market position to coerce Tmall merchants into signing exclusive cooperation pacts preventing them from offering products on rival platforms in violation of Chinese antitrust laws. 

The Alibaba class action lawsuit alleges that, throughout the Class Period, defendants violated the federal securities laws by disseminating false and misleading statements to the investing public and/or failing to disclose adverse facts pertaining to Alibaba’s business, operations, and prospects.  Specifically, defendants knew, or recklessly disregarded, but failed to disclose the following adverse facts: (a) that Alibaba had illicitly sought to circumvent Chinese laws and regulations, including laws regulating financial institutions and prohibiting anticompetitive behavior; (b) that Ant Group was predominantly a financial company subject to onerous Chinese banking regulations, including greater capital requirements than were disclosed to investors, rather than predominantly a technology company as represented; (c) that, as a result of the foregoing, Ant Group’s growth, prospects and the value proposition of the IPO were far smaller than represented; (d) and that Alibaba had forced merchants using its Tmall platform to sign coercive exclusivity agreements and had engaged in other anticompetitive behavior.

On November 2, 2020, the Financial Times reported that Chinese regulators had met with Ant Group’s controller, executive chairman, and Chief Executive Officer.  The article stated that, though regulators did not provide details, “the Chinese word used to describe the interview – yuetan – generally indicates a dressing down by authorities.”  The article also included a statement from Ant Group that it will “‘implement the meeting opinions in depth.’”  The following day, on November 3, 2020, Ant Group suspended its IPO because it “may not meet listing qualifications or disclosure requirements due to material matters.”  On this news, the price of Alibaba ADSs fell more than 8%. 

Then, on November 10, 2020, China’s anti-monopoly regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, published draft rules aimed at curtailing Alibaba’s coercive cooperation pacts, causing the price of Alibaba ADSs to suffer another 8% decline. 

Finally, on December 23, 2020, Chinese authorities revealed an antitrust investigation into Alibaba itself, acting on reports that Alibaba had improperly pressured merchants to exclusively sell goods on Tmall.  Regulators stressed the need to “‘guide Ant Group to implement financial supervision, fair competition and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.’”  On this news, the price of Alibaba ADSs fell 13% – the biggest one-day decline ever.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is one of the world’s leading law firms representing investors in securities class action litigation.  With 200 lawyers in 9 offices, Robbins Geller has obtained many of the largest securities class action recoveries in history.  For eight consecutive years, ISS Securities Class Action Services has ranked the Firm in its annual SCAS Top 50 Report as one of the top law firms in the world in both amount recovered for shareholders and total number of class action settlements.  Robbins Geller attorneys have helped shape the securities laws and have recovered tens of billions of dollars on behalf of aggrieved victims.  Beyond securing financial recoveries for defrauded investors, Robbins Geller also specializes in implementing corporate governance reforms, helping to improve the financial markets for investors worldwide.  Robbins Geller attorneys are consistently recognized by courts, professional organizations and the media as leading lawyers in the industry.

Press Release

ROBBINS GELLER RUDMAN & DOWD LLP FILES CLASS
ACTION SUIT AGAINST ALIBABA GROUP HOLDING LIMITED

New York – January 7, 2021 –  Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP (https://www.rgrdlaw.com/cases-alibaba-group-holdings-limited-class-action-lawsuit.html) today announced that it filed a class action seeking to represent purchasers of Alibaba Group Holding Limited (NYSE:BABA) American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”) between July 9, 2020 and December 23, 2020 (the “Class Period”).  This action was filed in the Southern District of New York and is captioned Elissa Hess, as Trustee for The EH Living Trust v. Alibaba Group Holding Limited, No. 21-cv-00136.

The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 permits any investor who purchased Alibaba ADSs during the Class Period to seek appointment as lead plaintiff in the Alibaba class action lawsuit.  A lead plaintiff is generally the movant with the greatest financial interest in the relief sought by the putative class who is also typical and adequate of the putative class.  A lead plaintiff acts on behalf of all other class members in directing the Alibaba class action lawsuit.  The lead plaintiff can select a law firm of its choice to litigate the Alibaba class action lawsuit.  An investor’s ability to share in any potential future recovery of the Alibaba class action lawsuit is not dependent upon serving as lead plaintiff.  If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff in the Alibaba class action lawsuit, you must move the Court no later than 60 days from November 13, 2020.  If you wish to discuss the Alibaba class action lawsuit or have any questions concerning this notice or your rights or interests, please contact plaintiff’s counsel, Brian E. Cochran of Robbins Geller, at 800/449-4900 or 619/231-1058 or via e-mail at bcochran@rgrdlaw.com.  You can view a copy of the complaint as filed at https://www.rgrdlaw.com/cases-alibaba-group-holdings-limited-class-action-lawsuit.html.

The Alibaba class action lawsuit charges Alibaba and certain of its officers with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Alibaba claims to be the largest e-retailer in the world and operates, among other online marketplaces, Tmall, an online and mobile commerce platform.  Alibaba also owns a 33% equity interest in Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group Co., Ltd. (“Ant Group”), a financial technology company best known for operating Alipay, a mobile and online payment platform.

On July 20, 2020, Ant Group announced it was preparing for its initial public offering (“IPO”), which aimed to raise $34 billion.  Alibaba represented that the IPO would be a significant boon to the Company, as the market was purportedly “assigning very little value to [its] stake in Ant Group.”  However, the complaint alleges that, unbeknownst to investors, Alibaba and its founder Jack Ma had structured Ant Group to evade critical Chinese banking regulations, including the requirement that Ant Group fund at least 30% of loans issued rather than the mere 2% it was currently funding.  In addition, as Alibaba built its e-commerce empire, it used its dominant market position to coerce Tmall merchants into signing exclusive cooperation pacts preventing them from offering products on rival platforms in violation of Chinese antitrust laws. 

The complaint alleges that, throughout the Class Period, defendants violated the federal securities laws by disseminating false and misleading statements to the investing public and/or failing to disclose adverse facts pertaining to the Company’s business, operations and prospects.  Specifically, defendants knew, or recklessly disregarded, but failed to disclose the following adverse facts: (a) that Alibaba had illicitly sought to circumvent Chinese laws and regulations, including laws regulating financial institutions and prohibiting anticompetitive behavior; (b) that Ant Group was predominantly a financial company subject to onerous Chinese banking regulations, including greater capital requirements than were disclosed to investors, rather than predominantly a technology company as represented; (c) that, as a result of the foregoing, Ant Group’s growth, prospects and the value proposition of the Ant Group IPO were far smaller than represented; (d) and that Alibaba had forced merchants using its Tmall platform to sign coercive exclusivity agreements and had engaged in other anticompetitive behavior.

On November 2, 2020, the Financial Times reported that Chinese regulators had met with Ant Group’s controller, executive chairman, and Chief Executive Officer.  The article stated that, though regulators did not provide details, “the Chinese word used to describe the interview – yuetan – generally indicates a dressing down by authorities.”  The article also included a statement from Ant Group that it will “‘implement the meeting opinions in depth.’”  On November 3, 2020, Ant Group suspended its IPO because it “may not meet listing qualifications or disclosure requirements due to material matters.”  On this news, the price of Alibaba ADSs fell more than 8%.  And on November 10, 2020, China’s anti-monopoly regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, published draft rules aimed at curtailing Alibaba’s coercive cooperation pacts, causing the price of Alibaba ADSs to suffer another 8% decline. 

Then, on December 23, 2020, Chinese authorities revealed an antitrust investigation into Alibaba itself, acting on reports that Alibaba had improperly pressured merchants to exclusively sell goods on Tmall.  Regulators stressed the need to “‘guide Ant Group to implement financial supervision, fair competition and protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.’”  On this news, the price of Alibaba ADSs fell 13% – the biggest one-day decline ever. 

The plaintiff is represented by Robbins Geller, which has extensive experience in prosecuting investor class actions including actions involving financial fraud.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP is one of the world’s leading law firms representing investors in securities litigation.  With 200 lawyers in 9 offices, Robbins Geller has obtained many of the largest securities class action recoveries in history.  For seven consecutive years, ISS Securities Class Action Services has ranked the Firm in its annual SCAS Top 50 Report as one of the top law firms in the world in both amount recovered for shareholders and total number of class action settlements.  Robbins Geller attorneys have helped shape the securities laws and have recovered tens of billions of dollars on behalf of aggrieved victims.  Beyond securing financial recoveries for defrauded investors, Robbins Geller also specializes in implementing corporate governance reforms, helping to improve the financial markets for investors worldwide.  Robbins Geller attorneys are consistently recognized by courts, professional organizations and the media as leading lawyers in the industry.  Please visit http://www.rgrdlaw.com for more information.

Contact:

            Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP

            Brian E. Cochran, 800-449-4900

            bcochran@rgrdlaw.com

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