Jack Ma announced that Daniel Zhang will replace him as co's Chmn

Jack Ma announced that Daniel Zhang will replace him as co's Chmn

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

Finally, the group added clarity to a confusing picture when it issued a statement, saying he would relinquish his role as executive chairman when he turns 55 on September 10, 2019. "The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things - because what if new dreams can be realised?!", Ma added. The Hurun Report, which follows China's wealthy, estimates his net worth at 37 billion USA dollars (£28.65 billion). He will also continue as a member of Alibaba Group's board of directors until annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.

Ma defended the arrangement as necessary to ensure Alibaba focuses on long-term development instead of responding to pressure from financial markets.

Alibaba is part of a group of companies including games and social media giant Tencent Holding, search engine Baidu.com and e-commerce rival JD.com that have revolutionised shopping, entertainment and consumer services in China. Recently, Ma has been taking full advantage of his fame, belting out "Unchained Melody" at a Chinese music festival, doing his best Michael Jackson impression at Alibaba's birthday bash a year ago, and even starring in his own kung-fu flick alongside the likes of Jet Li and Donnie Yen. An investment from Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. helped the company expand to allow consumers in China buy online and fueled its rise.

Zhang, who joined Alibaba in 2007, sees Alibaba as an integrated ecosystem that lures consumers with movies, live-streamed sports, fast food deliveries and news.

Ma, known in Chinese as Ma Yun, has become one of China's best-known public figures.

Alibaba raised $5 million from investors including Goldman Sachs and $20 million from Japan's Softbank in 1999.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ma now has a net worth of around $40 billion.

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Ma's success was tempered by complaints Alibaba allowed counterfeiters to thrive on its sales platforms.

He owns almost 9% of Alibaba, which is now worth $420bn. The two sides settled the dispute previous year with an agreement to cooperate in combating trafficking in fakes.

Alibaba is also increasing its footprint in the government sector. "But it's his thoughtfulness and humility that is most impressive as a leader", he said. Along the way, he hived off a payments service in controversial fashion, creating the $150 billion online finance giant Ant Financial.

The company, which reported a revenue of $39.9 billion for the fiscal 2017-18, has been successful not because of its scale but its team, the business magnate said.

The total value of goods sold on all of its platforms rose 28 per cent over 2016 to 4.8 trillion yuan ($768 billion), according to the company.

In 2011, Alibaba faced complaints it had transferred control over Alipay to a company controlled by Ma without immediately informing shareholders including Yahoo and Softback. I also want to offer special thanks to all Alibaba colleagues and your families, because your trust, support and our joint enterprise over the past 19 years have prepared us for this day with confidence and strength.

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