Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Finance | By Jaime Brady

China's richest man Jack Ma to stand down from Alibaba

China's richest man Jack Ma to stand down from Alibaba

Though he will no longer be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, Ma will continue to serve on Alibaba's board where he will offer his input about the future financial direction of the company.

It's not clear exactly when Ma will leave Alibaba.

Jack Ma, The co-founder and chairman of Alibaba plans to retire from the Chinese e-commerce giant on Monday to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education, he told The New York Times in an interview. The Times story was taken out of context and factually wrong, the spokesman said.

After being knocked back by U.S. venture capitalists in 1999, a cash-strapped Ma persuaded friends to give him $60,000 to start Alibaba, which operated out of an apartment in Hangzhou.

Ma's success was evident after Alibaba's Taobao bested eBay in China, forcing the U.S. auction site to largely withdraw from the country in 2006.

Ma, 53, is also China's wealthiest individual.

More travelling is scheduled for the businessman, including a trip to Cape Town, where Ma has promised to fulfil his pledge to help South African President Cyril Ramaphosa set up a digital training centre to nurture entrepreneurship among the youth.

No formal announcement has yet been made by the company to shareholders or the stock markets.

Shares of Alibaba fell more than two per cent in after-hours trading on reports of his retirement.

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He now has a net worth of about $39 billion, Forbes estimated, making him the second-richest person in China and the 20th-richest in the world.

Ma was born into a poor family in the city of Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

He also carries the nom de guerre of fengqingyang - keeping with Alibaba's tradition of using nicknames from the wuxia genre of Chinese literature - after the hermit master swordsman of one of Louis Cha's epics.

Ma said the move will be "the beginning of an era" and revealed that he may now focus on education, which he "loves".

He said: "There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".

Alibaba has one of the strongest management teams in corporate China and even if he steps down, Ma is likely still to have a role in setting top-level strategy, says Brock Silvers, MD of Kaiyuan Capital.

But in an interview with Bloomberg TV broadcast on Friday, Ma indicated that he had plans to soon retire and that he wanted to follow Microsoft founder Bill Gates as one of the world's most prolific philanthropists.

"I don't think it means that much, frankly".

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