Alibaba founder Jack Ma to step down as chairman in September 2019

Andrew Burton  Getty Images

Andrew Burton Getty Images

China's richest man and the founder of Alibaba retailer will step down in exactly one year on September 10, 2019, with chief executive officer Daniel Zhang taking over as chairman, the company has announced.

Mr Ma, one of China's richest men, will hand over the reins to Daniel Zhang, now Alibaba's chief executive.

"While remaining as executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition", Ma said in the statement. Afterwards the 54-year-old entrepreneur plans to stay on the board of directors until the annual shareholders meeting in 2020.

Jack Ma, a former English teacher, co-founded Alibaba with 18 others out of his apartment in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 1999.

Last year Ma invested 300 million yuan ($45 million) in a rural education project in China. "Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle", he said. The company has grown to have more than 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of some $420 billion. "I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier", he said.

Ma said that after he steps down from his current roles he will continue to mentor management as part of the "Alibaba Partnership", a 36-member group of core company managers.

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