The U.S. securities watchdog is taking a closer look at Alibaba’s accounting practices, including how it reports results for Singles’ Day — the shopping holiday that the Chinese e-commerce giant invented and built into a $14.3 billion shopping extravaganza.
Shareholders took a cautious tack and pushed the stock down 4.1 percent to $77.86 in early trading Wednesday.
Alibaba, which is led by Jack Ma, is China’s dominant e-commerce player and has been has found itself open to increasing scrutiny — particularly in the area of counterfeits — since its September 2014 IPO on the Nasdaq exchange.
The company said in its annual report that the Securities and Exchange Commission “informed us that it was initiating an investigation into whether there have been any violations of the federal securities laws.”
“The SEC has requested that we voluntarily provide it with documents and information relating to, among other things: our consolidation policies and practices (including our accounting for Cainiao Network as an equity method investee), our policies and practices applicable to related party transactions in general, and our reporting of operating data from Singles Day,” the firm said.
Alibaba controls 47 percent of Cainiao, a logistics network.
The company said it was “voluntarily disclosing this SEC request” and “[has] been providing the SEC with requested documents and information.”
The web marketplace said it was assured by the SEC that the request “should not be construed as an indication by the SEC or its staff that any violation of the federal securities laws has occurred.”
Singles’ Day allegedly came about a few decades ago when college students decided to buy each other gifts because they did not have significant others. The shopping day, which is held on Nov. 11 and is also known as Double Eleven, is now bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in the U.S.