Alibaba's Jack Ma to unveil succession plan next week, remain chairman

Alibaba's Jack Ma to unveil succession plan next week, remain chairman

Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment, but said in a social media posting on Saturday that Ma had met visiting African leaders and business partners in recent days.

Notably, while Ma had stepped down as the Alibaba CEO nearly eight years back, he remained the face of the company at top political and business events and he played an important role in devising the company's long term strategy.

Ma told The New York Times that he plans to step down from the company on Monday - his 54th birthday - referring to his departure as "the beginning of an era" rather than an end.

Jack Ma was a cash-strapped Chinese entrepreneur and former English teacher when he convinced friends to give him $60,000 to start a Chinese e-commerce firm called Alibaba in 1999. When asked if his retirement could happen as soon as this year, Ma smiled and said, "You'll know very soon". He added that he would be spending more of his time and fortune focussed on education.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, waves as he arrives at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, US, September 19, 2014.

Ma is retiring as China's business environment has soured, with Beijing and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr Ma has a net worth of about $40bn (£30.96bn). Under President Xi Jinping, China's internet industry has grown and become more important, prompting the government to tighten its leash.

Ma's Bloomberg interview came as shares of China's second-largest e-commerce company, JD.com, plummeted as its CEO Li Qiangdong was arrested in the United States over an accusation of rape.

Alibaba was founded by 18 people led by Ma. Alibaba has more than 86,000 employees on staff.

Liu was arrested and released without charge in the USA city of Minneapolis last week.

Ma is following a similar path as Bill Gates, who has dedicated himself to philanthropy after retirement, and has cited Microsoft's co-founder as an inspiration in an interview with Bloomberg TV recently. I've prepared a Jack Ma Foundation.

This year, regulators shot down a $1.2 billion bid for money transfer service Moneygram International Inc (MG.O) by Ant Financial on national security grounds, which the company said was related to "geopolitical" changes.

In an interview earlier this week, Ma had signaled that he was thinking about focusing more on philanthropy.

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