Alibaba is reassigning roles to four of its executives in one of the biggest reshuffles in its recent history, the company announced on Monday morning.
Maggie Wu, the e-commerce titan’s former chief financial officer, will step down next April and be replaced by Toby Xu, current deputy CFO. Wu will continue to be a partner in Alibaba Partnership, an exclusive group of personnel with major influence on the company’s directions and will remain as an executive director on the Alibaba board.
Wu was instrumental in Alibaba’s three public listings since she joined about 15 years ago: Alibaba.com (the firm’s B2B marketplace) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2007, Alibaba Group Holding on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2019. Alibaba is one of the U.S.-listed Chinese firms that have pursued secondary listings in Hong Kong amid rising U.S.-China tensions.
Founded in 1999, Alibaba already went through a major reshuffle when Jack Ma passed the torch as CEO to Daniel Zhang in 2015 and further appointed him as chairman in 2019.
“The announcement of Alibaba’s CFO transition today is the culmination of extensive preparation over many years and a part of Alibaba’s leadership succession planning,” said Wu in a statement.
“The markets will always have ups and downs, but Alibaba has ambitious long-term goals. We are in a relay race and we must have new generations of talent to take the company forward. I trust Toby even more than I trusted myself when I first took up the CFO position years ago,” she added.
Xu joined Alibaba from PwC three years ago and first appeared as deputy CFO at the firm’s investor day last year. He has overseen several major deals at Alibaba, including the e-commerce titan’s partnership with Starbucks in China.
Alongside the CFO succession, Alibaba also unveiled major reorganization to buttress its two-pronged strategy of domestic and international e-commerce, Daniel Zhang said in an internal letter.
Jiang Fan, who steered the firm’s core revenue drivers, its consumer-facing marketplaces in China, for years, will lead the newly formed International Digital Commerce unit. The international unit includes Southeast Asia-focused Lazada, in which Alibaba acquired control in 2016. Alibaba has also bought a majority stake in Turkey’s Trendyol and acquired Daraz, its counterpart in South Asia.
“We will continue to focus on becoming a truly globalized company, and we believe that overseas markets present many exciting potential and opportunities for us to capture,” wrote Zhang in his letter.
Meanwhile, the firm’s domestic consumer-oriented and wholesale marketplaces will be merged to form the new China Digital Commerce unit and come under the stewardship of Trudy Dai. Dai has been spearheading two of Alibaba’s new growth drivers, Taobao Deals, its bazaar targeting lower-income demographics in China, and Taocaicai, its neighborhood grocery service.