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  1. ITV Report

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma to step down next year

Jack Ma will step down as chairman of Alibaba in September 2019. Credit: AP

The founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced he will step down as the company’s chairman next September.

Jack Ma, 54, became one of China’s most famous entrepreneurs and one of the world’s richest.

He ranks at number three in the China Rich List, 20 on the billionaires list 2018 and his estimated net worth is £28.4 billion ($36.8 billion) according to Forbes.

In a letter released by Alibaba, Mr Ma said he will be succeeded by CEO Daniel Zhang, an 11-year veteran of the company.

Mr Ma handed over the CEO post to Zhang in 2013 as part of what he said was a long-planned succession.

He founded the business in 1999 in a flat. Credit: AP

Mr Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 in a flat in the eastern city of Hangzhou to connect Chinese exporters with foreign retailers.

It expanded into consumer retailing, becoming the world’s biggest e-commerce company by total value of goods sold, as well as online finance, cloud computing and other services.

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.

Jack Ma said on Twitter he does not like to "sit idle" and plans to continue his "role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership".

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group speaks on the "Singles' Day" global online shopping festival in Shenzhen. Credit: AP

Alibaba’s 25 billion dollar (£19 billion) initial public stock offering on Wall Street in 2014 is the biggest to date by a Chinese company.

E-commerce sales in China rose 32.2% last year to 7.2 trillion yuan, accounting for 20% of total retail spending.

Alibaba was founded at a time when few Chinese used the internet, as internet use spread, the company expanded into retailing and services.

Few Chinese used credit cards, so Alibaba created its own online payments system, Alipay.

Mr Zhang, Mr Ma’s planned successor, joined Alibaba in 2007 after working at Shanda Entertainment, an online games company.