Alibaba co-founder and China’s richest man announces retirement

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Nearly 20 years after he founded Alibaba, the Amazon of China, Executive Chairman Jack Ma plans to retire to focus on philanthropy, according to a report. Alibaba is China's largest corporation and, with a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, is now valued at $420 billion.

While Ma has been serving as Alibaba's executive chairman after handing the CEO title to David Zhang in 2013, the New York Times reports that Zhang is a candidate to take over his chairman duties.

News of the executive's departure comes amid a tumultuous period the industry. He was released and returned to China, although the investigation remains active. But he's remained very involved in the company he founded.

This year, regulators shot down a $1.2 billion bid for money transfer service Moneygram International Inc (MG.O) by Ant Financial on national security grounds, which the company said was related to "geopolitical" changes.

While Alibaba has become dominant in China, it has faced a tougher time expanding internationally.

Considered China's richest person, the e-commerce company's co-founder holds a spot in the world's top twenty billionaires in the world with a reported net worth of $39.9 billion. But its efforts to muscle into the United States largely have not been successful.

As Beijing has increased its involvement in the private sector, Ma has shifted what he has said about China's government.

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More travelling is scheduled for the businessman, including a trip to Cape Town, where Ma has promised to fulfil his pledge to help South African President Cyril Ramaphosa set up a digital training centre to nurture entrepreneurship among the youth. "With political stability, social safety and 6 percent-plus economic growth, we have the best business environment".

The New York Times reported on Friday that Ma would retire from the e-commerce company on Monday as the former English teacher seeks to focus on philanthropy in education.

Earlier Friday, Ma said he could "retire earlier" during a conversation with Bloomberg about Bill Gates' career. Within Alibaba, he is known and referred to as "Teacher Ma".

Speaking at an event in Australia in 2017, Ma explained his view on philanthropy.

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.

Ma has long shown an admiration for Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has donated vast amounts of his wealth to philanthropic causes.