What happened: 12.6 million shares of WeBank, a private lender with Tencent backing, have been listed for auction on Taobao. The shares start at the price of RMB 35 each, although a refundable deposit of RMB 44.1 million (the minimum bid) is required to bid. The auction listing is part of a court decision against WeBank’s fourth-biggest shareholder, Shenzhen Brightoil Petroleum Group, which formerly held RMB 147 billion in WeBank shares. Due to its unpaid loan to Pingan Bank, a Shanghai court ordered that Brightoil hold a judicial sale of some of its assets on Taobao.
Why it’s important: Although the listing is unusually large this time, online judicial sales have been happening in China since 2012. Xinhua reported that last year alone, 610,000 judicial auctions took place on Taobao with a transaction volume of RMB 460 billion, saving buyers billions more by skipping traditional commission fees. In the past, Taobao, JD.com, and three other e-commerce platforms have auctioned off confiscated jewelry, property, trademarks, and company shares as the result of court decisions. The combination of law and e-commerce falls in line with China’s “Internet First” plans, which will integrate technologies like big data and cloud services with government practice.