Alibaba's Jack Ma to step down as chairman in 2019

Alibaba's Jack Ma to step down as chairman in 2019

The former English schoolteacher now intends to focus on philanthropy and education but also pursue "new dreams." he said in a statement Monday.

"Daniel has been instrumental in bringing Alibaba to its current scale", said John Choi, the head of China internet research at investment bank Daiwa Capital Markets.

"Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle".

In the announcement, which coincided with his 54th birthday, the Chinese business magnate noted that his 46yo successor Zhang has been with the company for 11 years and has demonstrated "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership".

Alibaba said chief executive Daniel Zhang would succeed Mr Ma as chairman of the board in a year's time.

Mr. Zhang had previously served as Taobao's chief financial officer, president of Tmall.com and as Alibaba's chief operating officer before succeeding Jonathan Lu as chief executive. He pioneered the company's push into getting established brands to sell to customers and is credited with helping turn Singles' Day into a Chinese shopping bonanza.

This day apparently comes as quite the relief for Ma. The company's stock has risen 87 percent over his tenure and Alibaba now has a market value of about $420 billion, eclipsing WeChat operator Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Unusual are the ways in which tech honchos function: News about a change of guard came via his interview on Friday with The New York Times - at a time when US-China trade war is at its zenith - and not from Alibaba itself. Leadership will now fall to Zhang and the 35 other partners who control the company.

Zhang arrived at Alibaba in 2007 as the finance chief of the company's Taobao Marketplace, which he helped develop into one of the group's top businesses.

Stewardship of Asia's most valuable company is passing to a financial wizard who has led the company's effort to drag the traditional retail industry into the 21st century.

The opportunities are enormous for the current $35 billion Indian e-commerce sector which would be worth over $100 billion by 2022 - with a growth of around 25 per cent from the current level - a joint PwC-Nasscom report said on Friday.

Alibaba has since moved into cloud computing, digital payments, health care, Hollywood movies and backing China's startups.

Alibaba listed in NY in 2014 in what was then the world's biggest initial public offering of shares.

"Ma possesses an enviable clarity about how everything fits together", said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny.

He came from Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a leading Chinese developer of online games that was listed on the Nasdaq.

Ma says that he has been carefully preparing for this company transition for a decade. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years", he said, who is now China's richest man.

"I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition", Ma said in a letter released by the company.

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company's board.

After the meeting he said that they had both agreed that US-China relations "should be strengthened, should be more friendly and do better".

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