Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma attends a conference in China.

Beijing: Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has said he plans to step down in a year.

The news, in a letter sent by Mr. Ma to Alibaba customers and shareholders, follows conflicting reports over the weekend on the timing of his exit.

Five things about Jack Ma:

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

Daniel Zhang
Daniel Zhang will take over from Mr Ma.

Alibaba is one of the world’s most valuable companies – its shares nearly doubled in value last year.

Mr. Zhang, who is 46, developed the company’s Singles’ Day promotion, which is the world’s biggest one-day online retail event.

Mr. Zhang will become executive chairman on 10 September 2019, the company said in a statement.

The one year handover period is aimed at achieving a “smooth and successful transition”.

Mr. Ma, previously an English teacher, co-founded Alibaba in 1999 and has seen it become one of the world’s biggest internet companies.

“Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing to do for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles,” Mr. Ma said in the letter, released on his 54th birthday.