This story appears in the November 2023 issue of Forbes Asia. Subscribe to Forbes Asia
This story is part of Forbes’ coverage of China’s Richest 2023. See the full list here.
In late March, news of Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma’s surprise visit to mainland China was soon overtaken by the e-commerce giant’s announcement that it planned a major reorganization to turbocharge growth. Despite lingering investor concerns over the economy and stiff competition in online retail, Alibaba shares got a boost, pushing Ma’s net worth up 22% to $25.1 billion.
Alibaba will split into six divisions—each with their own CEO and board of directors—and it plans to pursue listings or fundraise for most of them. First up is the spin-off and IPO of logistics services provider Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, with the group getting the go-ahead by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in September. Alibaba, which trades on both the HKSE and New York Stock Exchange, says it will remain a majority shareholder in the business.
As part of the shake-up, Alibaba cofounder Joseph Tsai moved up to chairman from his role as executive vice chairman in September, while Eddie Wu, a cofounder who has led various businesses at the group, took the reins as CEO. In a memo, Wu pledged to reshape the group’s priorities around AI, calling it “the most significant change agent” in the next decade. Alibaba reported stronger-than-expected growth in the first quarter ended in June across its businesses. Net income jumped 51% to $4.7 billion from a year earlier on a 14% increase in revenue to $32.3 billion.
In July, China’s central bank fined Alibaba affiliate Ant Group about $985 million for violations related to corporate governance, consumer protection, and payments and clearing. (Ant responded that it would comply with the penalty). It’s been nearly three years since the fintech firm shelved its $35 billion IPO, which would have been the world’s largest listing, after Ma criticized Chinese regulators and banks at a conference in Shanghai. Followed by a long-running regulatory overhaul of the tech sector, Ant announced in January that Ma will give up control of the group. He has kept a low profile in recent years, spending most of his time overseas.