Alibaba’s Jack Ma resigns from SoftBank’s board of directors

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SoftBank Group said on Monday that Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma would resign from its board after the departure of a prominent ally of CEO Masayoshi Son.

Ma’s departure, who retired as Alibaba’s executive chairman in September, comes as he steps down from formal business to focus on philanthropy.

SoftBank will propose three new appointments to the board, including group chief financial officer Yoshimoto Goto, at its annual general meeting on June 25. The number of board members will increase to 13.

SoftBank will also propose the election of Lip-Bu Tan, CEO of chip design software company Cadence Design Systems, also president of venture capital firm Walden International, and Yuko Kawamoto, professor at Waseda Business School, as external directors. Kawamoto will become his only female member of the board of directors.

This responds to a request from activist investor Elliott Management, who lobbied SoftBank to improve board diversity and also wants a new subcommittee to oversee the Vision Fund’s $ 100 billion investment process. of dollars.

The pressure comes from the fact that Son’s top-down management style is under increasing scrutiny, with the fund reporting its third consecutive quarterly operating loss later Monday, plunging the group as a whole to a record loss.

The board of directors is largely made up of insiders and confidants of SoftBank. It also includes Yasir al-Rumayyan, who heads the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund which is the largest donor to the Vision Fund.

Ma’s release follows the departure of Tadashi Yanai, founder and CEO of Fast Retailing, a parent of Uniqlo, who resigned from the board at the end of last year to focus on his fashion business.

In addition, SoftBank said the board of directors had approved a second tranche of 500 billion yen ($ 4.7 billion) of stock purchases, as part of a 2.5-year buyback program. trillion yen announced in March to support the group’s stock price as its tech bets collapse.

SoftBank bought more than 250 billion yen of its shares at the end of April. He has pledged to sell or monetize $ 41 billion in assets to raise funds, with his stake in Alibaba – the most valuable asset in the portfolio – being seen as a likely target.

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