A US$64 million stake in a Tencent-backed bank WeBank is up for auction on Alibaba’s Taobao page for judicial sales
- A court ruling against the fourth largest shareholder of WeBank has put 12.6 million shares in the private online lender up for auction on Taobao
Taobao Marketplace has always been a gold mine of unusual things for sale, but an auction of a stake in private Chinese online lender WeBank for 441 million yuan (US$64 million) should qualify as one of the more curious lots to come under the hammer.
The business-to-consumer operation of Alibaba Group Holding is auctioning 12.6 million shares of WeBank at 35 yuan per share, following a ruling by the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People’s Court against Shenzhen Brightoil Petroleum Group over an unpaid loan to Ping An Bank, according to a disclosure released by the court last Friday.
The auction, posted on the dedicated Taobao page for judicial sale, requires a refundable down payment of 44.1 million yuan from bidders and will officially start on December 3. No bidder has signed up for the auction as of Monday.
Brightoil Petroleum is the fourth largest shareholder of WeBank with a stake worth 147 billion yuan, according to the court disclosure. It said WeBank, which is backed by internet giant Tencent Holdings, recorded a 1.4 billion yuan profit last year on revenue of 6.7 billion yuan.
WeBank could not be reached for a statement, while Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A judicial sale is a forced disposal under a judgment, order or supervision of a court. This used to be carried out through third-party auction houses, which charge a commission that is paid by the buyer.
China’s online judicial sale for confiscated goods represent an initiative to get the country’s public service in line with Beijing’s “Internet Plus” strategy, which aims to integrate the mobile internet, cloud computing and big data with traditional industries and practices.
Taobao has processed up to 610,000 judicial auctions involving 330,000 subject matters as of November last year, according to Xinhua. Transaction volume has reached 460 billion yuan, with savings of more than 13.8 billion yuan of commission fees.
The High People's Court of Zhejiang, the eastern coastal province where Alibaba was founded, was the first to bring judicial auctions online in 2012. This activity was expanded to cover all courts across China from 2017. Five online operations, including Taobao and China’s second largest e-commerce platform JD.com, are the country’s authorised sites for these auctions.
Taobao’s judicial sale platform, which does not charge a commission fee, sells confiscated goods ranging from jewellery and property to helicopters, company shares and trademarks. A review of this page showed a heap of used smartphones, laptop computers and other electronic goods that are up for sale from 16,980 yuan. A Hyundai car on the site had a price tag of 4,780 yuan.
The platform recently made headlines after a four-year-old shiba inu, a breed of dog native to Japan, was put on sale at a starting price of 500 yuan last month, attracting more than 2,600 individual bidders.
The People’s Court of Chaoyang District in Beijing listed the dog on the auction platform to help repay The Chonglehui, the pet hotel which had been caring for the dog after its owner left it four years ago.
The bidding was expected to start this Saturday, but the dog’s owner reached out last week to reclaim the canine and promised to pay any outstanding debt to the hotel, according to the court’s announcement posted on microblog Weibo. The auction will be cancelled once the owner repays the hotel this Saturday.
Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.