Alibaba's Ma to step down in September 2019, Zhang to become chairman

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That he speaks impeccable English despite being a Chinese comes from the fact that Jack Yun Ma, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, graduated from Hangzhou Teacher's Institute with a major in English and later became a teacher, imparting lessons in the same language.

"With the approval of our board of directors, one year from today on September 10, 2019 which also falls on Alibaba's 20th anniversary, Group CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed me as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group", Ma said in a letter on Monday.

Ma - who will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management after retirement.

Before moving into the business world with Alibaba's founding nearly 20 years ago, Ma was an English teacher.

Ma's 46-year-old successor has pushed Alibaba deeper into the wallets of Chinese consumers as it bought and transformed brick-and-mortar outlets: a so-called " New Retail" vision that's cost billions of dollars and took it into the realm of physical stores.

He relinquished the role of chief executive in 2013.

"There's only Bill Gates who has done the same. But for a company of Alibaba's size, it's a process that will take 10 years to complete", he said. He is known as a key architect of Alibaba's "Singles Day", the Nov 11 event that has becomes the world's largest online shopping event. The company has grown to have more than 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of some $420 billion.

On September 3, the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board (APEDB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Alibaba Cloud to adopt cloud computing frameworks within the government model.

He is also known for his eccentric personality and has donned wigs and costumes to perform highly choreographed pop routines at company events.

Last year, he made his acting debut with his first kung fu short film Gong Shou Dao, in which he sparred with martial arts master Jet Li.

Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, attends the launch of a blockchain-based remittance solution in Hong Kong on June 25, 2018.

Since handing over the CEO role, Ma has concentrated on philanthropy and promoting Alibaba internationally at business and political events. He has also established a scholarship program in Newcastle, Australia.

Alibaba saw sales at its e-commerce business swell 61 percent in the latest reported quarter, but its profit margins have been squeezed by big-ticket investments as it battles to maintain its dominant position in e-commerce and payments.

"Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle".

Alibaba is also increasing its footprint in the government sector.

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