Billion dollar baby: Jack Ma cashes in

Jack Ma

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has reduced his stake from 6.2% to 4.8% in the e-commerce company over the past 12 months.

Jack Ma, said to be the second wealthiest person in China, raked in around US$8.2 billion at Alibaba‘s current share price, the firm’s annual filing revealed.

The divestment comes after Jack Ma retired as Alibaba’s executive chairman in September 2018 to focus on educational work, philanthropy, and environmental causes

Alibaba did not disclose the average selling price of his divestment. Alibaba’s share price has risen around 40% since Jack Ma reported his 6.2% holding in the company a year ago.

The stock’s stellar performance has been helped by forecast-beating earnings growth, even as China’s economy sharply slows, as more people shop online for essentials due to the coronavirus pandemic, Yahoo Finance reported.

Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai also reduced his stake in Alibaba over the same period, to 1.6% from 2.2%. The offloaded shares were worth US$3.3 billion as of Friday.

Ma and Tsai have been steadily less involved in Alibaba’s regular operations since Daniel Zhang replaced Ma as company chairman and CEO. The pair have donated millions of units of personal protective equipment via their individual charity arms to hospitals worldwide to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

An April 2019 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission stated that Jack Ma planned to sell up to 21 million shares within one year to support his philanthropic efforts.

Daniel Zhang, in a letter to shareholders on 10 July, said that the ecommerce revolution had succeeded.

“We know without doubt that the ongoing digital transformation of our economy and society will be unstoppable. COVID-19 has made us fundamentally re-evaluate our relationship with the world around us. It has catalyzed development of brand-new digital solutions in life, work, education, business management and public services. Today, digitalization is the new norm,” Daniel Zhang said in the shareholders letter.

“Our next goal is to serve more than 1 billion consumers in China and facilitate more than RMB10 trillion (US$1.4 trillion) of consumption on our platforms in the next five years as we continue on the path of globalization. Our longer-term goals are to serve 2 billion consumers globally, create 100 million jobs and provide the necessary infrastructure to support 10 million small businesses to become profitable on our platforms by 2036. We will continue to pursue our three strategic pillars of globalization, China domestic consumption and big data powered by cloud computing. Globalization is our long-term battle; Chinese domestic consumption is our cornerstone battle and big data powered by cloud computing is our battle for the future.”

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