China’s richest man Jack Ma to step down from Alibaba for ‘philanthropy’

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's (BABA.N) billionaire co-founder Jack Ma will announce a succession plan on Monday to hand the reins of his sprawling empire to a new generation of leaders but will remain executive chairman for the time being. This will be a big change of guard for the $420 billion dollar Chinese internet company. Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is also a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day.

Over the course of his tenure, Ma has also become China's richest man with a net worth of more than $40 billion.

News of the executive's departure comes amid a tumultuous period the industry. He was released and has since returned to Beijing, where JD.com is based.

As he prepares to leave the company, Ma is among China's super-rich.

Often compared to Amazon.com, Alibaba's parent company has e-commerce, online payment, banking, entertainment and cloud computing businesses. It grew into one of the world's largest online retailers, earning it comparisons to US -based Amazon. Numerous co-founders are still around, and professionals who joined the company later are now in charge.

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He is one of the most colorful of China's growing crop of billionaires, performing a Michael Jackson-inspired dance routine at the company's 18th anniversary celebration past year, and starring in his own kung fu short film. However, in contrast to the American magnate, he wants to "retire earlier".

At a conference in November, Ma was more positive. "With political stability, social safety and 6 percent-plus economic growth, we have the best business environment". Ma told Bloomberg earlier this week that he wanted to dedicate more of his time and fortune to philanthropy with the creation of a foundation in his own name focused on education, following in the footsteps of fellow billionaire Bill Gates.

"This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba", he told Bloomberg TV recently. Ma's Weibo social media handle is "spokesman for village teachers - Jack Ma".

Speaking at an event in Australia in 2017, Ma explained his view on philanthropy. He cited Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example.

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.

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