While Ma made a limited number of public appearances in mainland China after that, as speculation swirled about his whereabouts, one of the sources said the visit marked his first trip to the Asian financial hub since last October.
Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside of its regular business hours. Comments from Ma typically come via the company.
The sources declined to be identified due to confidentiality constraints.
Ma, once China’s most famous and outspoken entrepreneur, met at least “a few” business associates over meals last week, said the people.
Ma, who is mostly based in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, where his business empire is headquartered, owns at least one luxury house in the former British colony that also houses some of his companies’ offshore business operations.
Alibaba is also listed in Hong Kong, besides New York.
The former English teacher disappeared from public view for three months before surfacing in January, speaking to a group of teachers by video. That eased concern about his unusual absence from the limelight and sent Alibaba shares surging.
In May, Ma made a rare visit to Alibaba’s Hangzhou campus during the firm’s annual “Ali Day” staff and family event, company sources have said.
On Sept 1, photographs of Ma visiting several agricultural greenhouses in the eastern Zhejiang province, home to both Alibaba and its fintech affiliate Ant, went viral on Chinese social media.
The next day, Alibaba said it would invest 100 billion yuan (US$15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of “common prosperity”, becoming the latest corporate giant to pledge support for the wealth sharing initiative driven by President Xi Jinping.
Alibaba and its tech rivals have been the target of a wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on issues ranging from monopolistic behaviour to consumer rights. The e-commerce behemoth was fined a record $2.75 billion in April over monopoly violations.
Earlier this year, regulators also imposed a sweeping restructuring on Ant, whose botched $37 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong and on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR Market would have been the world’s largest.
Asos CEO, chairman step down
Chairman Adam Crozier has also stepped aside, reportedly stating the business needed a “fresh pair of eyes” after the pandemic wrecked havoc with its share price and supply chain.
A search is now underway to find a replacement chief executive, though current CFO Mat Dunn will temporarily take the reins with immediate effect.
“Asos’s management and Board have spent considerable time over recent months developing and validating a clear strategic plan to accelerate international growth, building on Asos’s undoubted strength in the UK,” said Beighton.
“Key to that is ensuring that we have the right leadership in place for the next phase, and the changes we are announcing today are designed to ensure we deliver against our clear strategic intent.”
Beighton said he felt proud of the way the business grew under his leadership, specifically that sustainability is now “at the heart of everything we do”.
Lovisa CEO exits business after 12 years at the helm
After 12 years at the helm of jewellery retailer Lovisa, Shane Fallscheer has stepped down from his role as chief executive and managing director, effective October 14.
Fallscheer will be succeeded by Victor Herrero, former Inditex Group head of Asia Pacific and managing director of Greater China and has committed to ensuring a smooth transition.
“I’m proud of what the Lovisa team has achieved in the past 12 years and I am very excited to pass the baton on and watch Lovisa continue its global expansion,” Fallscheer said.
“Victor is an exceptional retailer with proven achievements in global markets and is the ideal person to continue to take Lovisa forward.”
Brett Blundy, chairman of Lovisa, thanked Fallscheer for his leadership over the past decade.
“He was the driving force behind the creation of Lovisa in 2010 and has since then grown the business to over 550 stores, operating across 20 countries, employing over 3,000 team members and with a market capitalisation of circa $2 billion,” said Blundy.
“Victor will commence in the role of global chief executive officer as soon as practical subject to current Covid restrictions, and we are pleased Shane and Victor are committing to ensuring a smooth transition.”
Herrero said he is excited by the opportunity to work with Lovisa at an amazing time for the business, and that he looked forward to growing it with the “same passion and momentum that has gotten the business to where it is today”.
Woolworths Group appoints new supply chain chief
Woolworths Group has named Annette Karantoni as chief supply chain officer and managing director of its supply-chain arm Primary Connect.
Karantoni, who ranked 17th on Inside Retail‘s 2021 Top 50 People in E-Commerce, will remain in her role as Woolworths’ director of B2C e-commerce before starting her new role and joining the group’s executive committee next February.
“Karantoni has done an outstanding job rapidly expanding our e-commerce business to meet the surge in demand we’ve seen for online shopping over the past 18 months,” Brad Banducci, CEO of Woolworths.
“Annette joins a very strong team at Primary Connect, who have demonstrated safety and service leadership throughout the pandemic. I look forward to seeing them build our next generation supply chain in the years ahead.”
Karantoni has been working for Woolworths Group for 20 years under different roles. Prior to her role as director of B2C e-commerce, Karantoni led the development and investment roadmap for the Woolworths supply chain network. She has also held senior roles in supermarkets buying, marketing and replenishment.
Meanwhile, Chris Brooks, Woolworths Group’s current acting chief supply chain officer, will remain in the role until February.
Kathmandu names new director with ESG experience
Kathmandu has appointed a new director with knowledge and capability in ESG (environmental, social and governance) governance as it looks to increase its focus on this space. Abigail Foote joined the outdoor retailer’s board, effective October 15.
Foote is a professional director with over 12 years’ governance experience, including publicly listed and Crown companies. With qualifications in both law and accounting, her career has covered both disciplines, focusing on corporate finance, treasury and commercial transactions.
She currently serves on the boards of Z Energy Limited, Sanford Limited and Freightways Limited. Her previous governance roles include TVNZ, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Transpower New Zealand, Livestock Improvement Corporation and the New Zealand Local Government Funding Agency.
As required by Kathmandu’s constitution and the NZX Listing Rules, Foote will hold office until the next annual shareholder’s meeting, at which time she will resign and stand for election.
British online fast-fashion firm Asos announced a shock management reshuffle on October 11, with CEO Nick Beighton stepping down after six years in the job.