China tech firms move to reinforce legal arsenal amid regulatory crackdown

Relaible sources and job postings has it that China’s big technology firms are stepping up hiring of legal and compliance experts and setting aside funds for potential fines amid an unprecedented anti-trust and data privacy crackdown by regulators.

China is tightening scrutiny of its tech firms, and in December eyebrows were raised when regulators launched an anti-trust probe into e-commerce giant Alibaba after the halting of the $37 billion IPO of payment affiliate Ant Group.

The regulatory scrutiny, which ended the once laissez-faire approach, comes after a string of high-profile deals in the sector triggered concerns about competition and consumer data.

Companies including Alibaba, Tencent, Meituan, Baidu and ByteDance are hunting for dozens of legal and compliance professionals, according to the people and a Reuters review of their job postings.

Some of the job postings are specifically for regulation compliance and data related areas.

Alibaba’s website shows it is currently looking to hire 69 legal and compliance professionals, of which about half a dozen are for competition, regulation compliance and data privacy.

Tencent and Meituan have also been in the market in the last two to three months to hire about a dozen each for legal and compliance roles in their respective companies, job postings on company websites showed.

Describing a public policy specialist job posted last month, Meituan said the role would be “responsible for studying the new development and regulation trend of the internet space and assist in strategy making”.

An Alibaba spokeswoman said the company routinely recruits to support business developments, and dismissed any suggestions that the hires were in response to the recent regulatory developments.

Tencent and ByteDance declined to comment, while Meituan and Baidu did not respond to a request for comment.