Alibaba's Ma to step down in September 2019, Zhang to become chairman

Roman Schwartz
September 10, 2018

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, is preparing to retire from the Chinese retail giant.

"Ma will continue as the executive chairman of the company over the next 12 months to ensure a smooth transition to Zhang", a statement from Alibaba said.

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company's board, and now five of Alibaba's eleven board members have been nominated by the partnership.

Founded in 1999 by Chinese teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jack Ma as a platform to connect Chinese manufacturers with the world, Hangzhou-based Alibaba stands among one of the largest companies in the world.

He relinquished the role of chief executive in 2013.

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The company said he will pass on the reins to trusted lieutenant Daniel Zhang.

Mr. Zhang had previously served as Taobao's chief financial officer, president of and as Alibaba's chief operating officer before succeeding Jonathan Lu as chief executive.

His own worth has soared along with that of his company, which has added cloud computing, films and e-payments to its growing portfolio and was valued at US$420.8 billion when the stock market closed on Friday.

After he steps down, he will continue to mentor management as part of the "Alibaba Partnership", a 36-member group of core company managers. He has also established a scholarship programme in Australia.

The businessman described the move as a step up to the "next level of corporate governance", and transition from a company that fully relies on individuals to "one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development".

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