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Alibaba's Jack Ma Leaves SoftBank Board

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Japanese banking major SoftBank Group Corp. announced that Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group, is resigning from its Board after 13 years.

The decision reportedly reflects Ma's increased focus on philanthropy as he steps down from all business roles. He resigned as Alibaba's chairman last September, and is expected to resign from its board at this year's annual general meeting.

In a statement, the bank said Ma's resignation from SoftBank Board will be effective at its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on June 25. SoftBank will propose three new appointments to the board, with which the number of board members will expand to 13.

The bank's new Board changes are said to be inline with activist investor U.S. hedge fund Elliott Management's demands to improve board diversity in the bank and strengthen corporate governance. The investor also has asked for more buybacks by selling assets to boost stockholder value and a new subcommittee to oversee the investment process at its $100 billion tech investment unit Vision Fund.

While announcing a hefty loss in its fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, SoftBank now said its investment businesses, particularly SoftBank Vision Fund, have already been adversely affected from the COVID-19 outbreak, with SoftBank Vision Fund recording an investment loss of 1.1 trillion yen in the fourth quarter due to a decline in the fair values of its investments.

Masayoshi Son, SoftBank founder, chairman, as well as its largest investor with around 27 percent stake, was a major investor while Ma started Alibaba Group in 2000. SoftBank still holds about 25 percent of Alibaba.

It was in 2007 that Ma joined the board of SoftBank. In late March, SoftBank announced a plan to sell about $14 billion of shares in Alibaba Group as part of its decision to sell or monetize up to 4.5 trillion yen or $41 billion of assets held by the company. This was to repurchase up to 2 trillion yen of its common stock with the balance to be used for debt redemptions, bond buybacks, and increasing cash reserves.

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