Alibaba's Jack Ma to step down as chairman in 2019

Alibaba's Jack Ma to step down as chairman in 2019
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Jack Ma, the longtime head of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Sunday announced that Daniel Zhang will succeed him as chairman in one year's time.

Ma, the wealthiest man in China, had earlier said he would be unveiling a succession plan, while hitting back at a New York Times report that said he was retiring.

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"Today, as we mark the 19th anniversary of Alibaba, I am excited to share some news with you: 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 announced in a statement.

Ma, who also founded the company, will complete his current term as a member of Alibaba Group's board of directors until 2020, the company said.

His decision to step down as chairman marks the first major transition in leadership for the nearly 20-year-old company, as well as a symbolic changing of the guards for China's still burgeoning tech sector.

Ma said he will continue to be a member of the Alibaba Partnership and focus his new free time on philanthropy.  

“I still have lots of dreams to pursue,” the former teacher said in his statement. “I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do.”

His decision comes amid an escalating trade row between the U.S. and China. In January, President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE met with Ma to discuss how to help small American businesses sell agricultural products to Asia.