China hands Microsoft administrative fine over Xbox venture

A Microsoft Xbox video game logo is seen at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles, California, United States, June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

BEIJING (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp MSFT.O and its Chinese partner in an Xbox game console venture have been fined by China's commerce ministry for breaching antitrust rules but escaped serious punishment after it deemed they did not hamper free market competition.

Microsoft and Shanghai Oriental Pearl Media Co Ltd 600637.SS, known as BesTV, were fined 200,000 yuan ($31,430)each for failing to report to antitrust regulators that their joint venture exceeded a market share threshold that usually triggers a disclosure requirement.

Microsoft and BesTV formed a venture in 2013 to bring the Xbox to China after the government lifted a 14-year ban on consoles.

The Xbox investigation, which did not find Xbox in serious violation of any antitrust rules, was unrelated to an ongoing probe by China’s National Development and Reform Commission into Microsoft’s Windows operating system and Office software sales practices.

Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Edwina Gibbs