Daniel Zhang: Alibaba-Chef zieht sich komplett zurück

DThe long-standing CEO of the Chinese digital conglomerate Alibaba unexpectedly steps down from management. Daniel Zhang has led Alibaba for eight years and was supposed to oversee the important cloud division as part of the planned split of the company. Alibaba had set Sunday as the deadline for the transition, which now marks Zhang’s departure.

Gustav Theile

Wirtschaftskorrespondent für China mit Sitz in Schanghai.

The company expressed gratitude to the 51-year-old manager in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Additionally, Zhang will receive a fund of one billion dollars to invest in start-ups. The news did not sit well with the stock market, as the share price dropped by over 3 percent at its peak.

The digital corporation is going through a challenging phase.

Zhang hat Alibaba breiter aufgestellt, vor allem aber durch eine sehr schwierige Phase geführt. Der Konzern stand in den vergangenen Jahren im Zentrum einer Kampagne, mit der Peking in der Digitalbranche die Zügel anzog. Zuvor hatte Zhangs Vorgänger, Alibaba-Gründer Jack Ma, die Politik öffentlich kritisiert.

Alibaba Group Holding Limited

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In the past months, Zhang, who joined Alibaba as a financial manager one and a half decades ago, initiated a major restructuring. Alibaba is dividing itself into six separate companies under a holding company. The cloud division is considered one of the largest and is planned to go public by mid-next year. The company confirmed this in a statement.

Alibaba ist einer der größten Konzerne Chinas und vor allem als Onlinehändler bekannt. Im vergangenen Geschäftsjahr erwirtschaftete der Konzern einen Umsatz von umgerechnet 110 Milliarden Euro. Nach Jahren der Stagnation während der Pekinger Maßnahmen nahm das Wachstum des Unternehmens zuletzt wieder Fahrt auf.

Originally, Zhang was supposed to lead both the holding company and the cloud division after the restructuring. In June, it was announced that Joe Tsai would take over as chairman of the board of the holding company and Eddie Wu would become CEO. Both were part of Alibaba’s founding team and are considered close confidants of longtime CEO Jack Ma. Their promotion was seen as a sign that Alibaba and Ma, who had been absent for a long time, are regaining favor with Beijing.

Tsai comes from a wealthy family in Taiwan, has lived in North America for a long time, and is the owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball club in New York. Unlike Zhang, Wu has a technical background and has been the Chief Technology Officer of various Alibaba units since their founding in the late nineties. He is currently also temporarily leading the cloud division. However, the company vaguely announced a new leadership that is not yet known.