Jack Ma. Photo: VGC
Alibaba founder Jack Ma is no longer a shareholder of Zhejiang Taobao Network Co. Ltd., Taobao’s corporate entity, company records show.
Ma, who announced his impending retirement last year, was previously one of the only two shareholders of the corporate entity of Taobao – China’s biggest online retail platform owned by Alibaba Group. The entity’s shares are now controlled entirely by a single corporation owned by five other members of Alibaba’s current management team: Daniel Zhang, Zhao Ying, Zheng Junfang, Tong Wenhong, and Shao Xiaofeng.
The five, who now each hold 20% of Taobao Network’s shares, are also current members of the Alibaba Partnership, a committee of 36 people at Alibaba who have de facto control of the internet giant’s board.
The move brought renewed interest on Monday into the billionaire’s retirement plans. Alibaba acknowledged the change in an official statement Monday, saying it was implied in its annual financial report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in July.
But the company's later announcement on Monday said Ma had “never transferred or exited as a Taobao shareholder, nor is he planning to do so,” citing the latest change in public records as a “very common and normal practice in company’s management, technically and legally speaking.”
The Alibaba Group, like many other Chinese tech companies listed in the U.S., bases its shareholding relationships on a complicated VIE structure, under which more than a dozen business units, including Taobao, operate from the headquarters in Hangzhou, China.
Notably, this is the fifth time Ma and his partners have made this kind of transfer for shares they owned in an Alibaba unit, according to open records.
Alibaba declined Caixin’s request for further comment.