Alibaba to consider giving up control of operating companies - CEO

March 30, 2023 5:38 AM EDT -- Alibaba (HK:9988) (NYSE: BABA) will consider giving up control of the six operational companies that it intends to spin off over the coming years, Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said on Thursday.

On a conference call with analysts, Zhang didn’t give away too many details about when and how this would happen, saying that decisions of that kind will be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Zhang also said the company will sell off more non-core assets, as part of its broader plan to unlock value for shareholders after a disastrous couple of years.

Even after a recovery in recent months, Alibaba ADRs have lost two-thirds of their value since the abortive IPO of financial services affiliate Ant Group triggered a nationwide crackdown aimed at breaking the power of the country’s Internet giants.

Alibaba's new plan will go some way to appeasing regulators' concerns over its market power, which stretches from e-commerce and financial services to logistics and food delivery.

In future, Zhang said, “Alibaba will be more of the nature of an asset and capital operator than a business operator, in relation to the business group companies."

News on Tuesday that Alibaba will transform itself into a holding company, and allow its various units to operate independently with their own boards and capital plans, sent Alibaba stock up 14%, adding $32 billion to its market value.

Zhang said it was essential to make the company more agile, to allow it to cope better with emerging competitors.

“We need to become more entrepreneurial and to unleash more ownership across the different businesses,” Zhang said, adding that: “We are fully confident that this new organizational structure will further enhance value for the company as a whole.”

At the same time, he said he expects the group to keep operational synergies.

By Geoffrey Smith

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