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

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He co-founded the Chinese internet retailer in 1999 and built it into an empire now worth $420 billion and making the former English teacher China's richest man worth about $40 billion.

"I am very thankful for Australia and the time I spent there in my youth", Ma said during his visit.

Ma's decision also comes as a US police investigation into an allegation of rape against Richard Liu, had of top rival JD.com Inc (JD.O), hammered its shares.

Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999 and built it into a multibillion-dollar internet colossus, becoming one of the world's richest men and a revered figure in his homeland.

Alibaba Group is a Chinese multinational holding conglomerate specialising in e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology.

Like Gates, he has created his own eponymous foundation - the Jack Ma Foundation - which he says will push his original calling: education. Born into a poor family in Hangzhou, eastern Zhejiang province, Ma became a university teacher but gave the job up after discovering the internet.

Ma also controls Ant Financial, the online financial platform that runs China's largest mobile payment system and money-market fund. Morley brought young Ma to Australia in 1985 for his first overseas trip, when he spent almost a month in Newcastle, an experience which the Chinese businessman said had "totally changed my future". Ma even believes that he can "do much better" at teaching than he did as CEO of Alibaba.

Alibaba declined to comment but pointed toward the SCMP story when asked about Ma's plans.

FILE PHOTO: Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma gestures as he attends the 11th World Trade Organization's ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina December 11, 2017. According to the paper current CEO Daniel Zhang is a "candidate" to replace Ma, who plans to pursue philanthropy in education.

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.

But in an interview with Bloomberg TV broadcast on Friday, Ma indicated that he had plans to soon retire and that he wanted to follow Microsoft founder Bill Gates as one of the world's most prolific philanthropists.

A devotee of tai chi, he has made references to Chinese martial arts in both business strategy and corporate culture.

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