Jack Ma has put off plans to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Alibaba shares after the Chinese tech giant’s stock plummeted last week.
Two regulatory filings from last Thursday revealed that Ma had been looking to offload 10 million shares, worth nearly $871 million.
But because the company’s stock price has fallen below the billionaire’s expectations, he has not sold “a single share,” according to a Wednesday post from Alibaba Chief People Officer Jane Jiang Fang on the company’s internal forum seen by CNN.
The sales were initially planned to take place this Tuesday through JC Properties and JSP Investment, two entities linked to Ma and his philanthropic foundation, according to the filings.
The disclosure of the intended sales came the same day Alibaba reported third quarter earnings, when it announced that it would drop plans to spin off its cloud computing arm partly due to uncertainties caused by US controls on chip exports to China.
Alibaba’s stock plunged 9% in New York on Thursday and nearly 10% in Hong Kong on Friday, wiping out about $20 billion from the company’s market value.
So far this year, Alibaba’s shares have fallen more than 10%.
Jiang said the fact that both pieces of news came at the same time was just a “coincidence.”
The news of the sale had triggered rumors that Ma had lost confidence in the company, but Jiang urged employees to dismiss such speculation. The executive said the transactions were part of a long-term plan laid out in August, which would allow Ma’s office to invest in agricultural technology and welfare projects both in and outside China.
Ma believes that the Hangzhou-based firm’s stock “is currently significantly lower than Alibaba’s actual value, and he will not sell it,” she said.
Alibaba Chairman Joe Tsai also weighed in, writing in a comment on the same post seen by CNN that he had “full confidence” in the company.
On Friday, Ma’s office told the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong newspaper owned by Alibaba, that he remained “very positive” about the company’s prospects, despite plans for “a partial sell-down.”
Ma’s foundation and Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter, or whether the share sale would proceed if the company’s stock price rebounded.
The group is currently in the midst of a major restructuring, which was announced in March and originally intended to result in a split of six separate units, each overseen by its own chief executive and board of directors.
But last week, Alibaba said it would rethink plans not just for its cloud business, but for a listing of its grocery chain Freshippo, citing a need to “evaluate market conditions.”
Ma founded Alibaba in 1999. He stepped down as chairman of the company in 2019, about a year before landing in hot water with Chinese authorities for criticizing Chinese financial regulators and banks. Since then, the entrepreneur has kept a relatively low profile while remaining an Alibaba shareholder.
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