Alibaba stock roiled by report of China curbs on person named Ma

NEW DELHI: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. shares slid more than 9% after state broadcaster CCTV reported Tuesday that authorities in its home base of Hangzhou had imposed curbs on an individual surnamed Ma. Alibaba’s shares recouped much of their losses after Hangzhou police posted a statement very similar to CCTV’s report later on Tuesday, but with a slight change that suggested the accused person’s name covered three characters. Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s Chinese name is the two-character Ma Yun.

The person, who was otherwise unidentified in the original report, was placed under so-called “compulsory measures” on April 25 after being accused of inciting subversion of state power and other activities that endangered national security, CCTV said, citing the public security bureau, without elaborating.

The brief two-sentence report lacked other details but rattled investors already on edge over Beijing’s year-long clampdown over every corner of the internet sphere, which kicked off by targeting Ma. Beijing halted the IPO of Ma’s Ant Group Co. before waging a campaign to rein in alleged abuses and excesses by increasingly powerful internet firms.

Chinese authorities in the city of Hangzhou, where both Alibaba and Ant are based, were unavailable for comment during the Golden Week holidays. Representatives for Alibaba and Ant didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Alibaba’s dollar bonds fell about 10bps wider across the curve Tuesday morning, according to credit traders.