Report: Trump Administration Considering Adding Tencent and Alibaba to Trade Blacklist

Tencent Holdings and Alibaba may be added to a trade blacklist of Chinese firms that allegedly have ties with the Chinese military, according to what two people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week. 

According to the report, the Trump Administration is at least considering the move, with Defense Department officials who are in charge of such blacklist designations still considering its options, in addition to including other Chinese companies on the list. 

Being added to the list would mean that Americans would be prohibited from investing in the companies, while those who already own shares in the blacklisted companies would have until November to divest themselves.

Tencent owns Valorant and League of Legends developer Riot Games, holds a large stake in Fortnite maker Epic Games and Rocket League maker Psyonix, and has minor investments in companies such as Call of Duty League and Overwatch League owner Activision Blizzard, Rainbow Six Siege maker Ubisoft, and PUBG owner Krafton Inc. It also owns MMO developer Funcom, mobile games developer Supercell, and Digital Extremes and Splash Damage parent company Leyou, among many others.

While Alibaba is not a major player in the esports and gaming space, it has been known to invest in it from time to time. In August of 2020 its eWTP Innovation Fund led a $12M USD financing round for Swedish esports tournament management platform Challengermode.

While Alibaba is listed on two stock exchanges, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK), Tencent is only listed on the SEHK and only traded as an American Depositary Receipt (ADR) on the small cap over-the-counter pink sheet market OTC Pink. Each receipt is a certificate issued by a U.S. bank representing a share in a foreign stock. 

On Tuesday, Trump issued an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese digital payment platforms including Alipay and Tencent’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay. The ban would not take effect until 45 days after the order was issued, leaving it in the hands of the incoming administration.

In December, the U.S. government added dozens of Chinese companies to a trade blacklist.

It is unclear whether President-elect Joe Biden will continue the Trump Administration’s policies on China, including his most recent executive order or the attempts to ban TikTok and WeChat in the U.S. 


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