ALIBABA Group Holdings, China's largest e-commerce company, has appointed Executive Vice President Lu Zhaoxi to succeed founder Jack Ma, a handover that may signal the firm is preparing for an initial public offering.
Lu, 43, will take over as chief executive officer on May 10 with Ma remaining as executive chairman of the group, the company said in a statement yesterday.
"Lu is passionate about and familiar with the Group's various businesses, and I'm confident he'll make bigger progress with the help and support of fellow Alibaba employees," Ma wrote in an e-mail to company staff yesterday.
Lu Zhenwang, an independent e-commerce commentator, said that Lu is expected to "oversee the core assets of Alibaba Group which will go public in the near future."
A 13-year veteran of Alibaba, Lu Zhaoxi is now in charge of the group's data mining operations and information infrastructure after having previously been chairman at Alipay and Taobao.com.
Ma had reiterated that e-commerce, together with financial services and data mining, are the three pillars of the group's development in the future.
Ma, who founded Alibaba with 17 partners 14 years ago in Hangzhou, said two months ago he would step down and hand over the leadership to a younger generation who have a better understanding of the e-commerce future.