Monday 18 May 2020 7:58 am

Alibaba's Jack Ma steps down from Softbank board

Softbank has announced that Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma will resign from its board, in the latest high-profile exit for the technology group.

The resignation of Jack Ma, after 13 years on the board, is the latest departure of critics of Softbank founder Masayoshi Son’s pivot towards a £100bn investment fund.

Read more: SoftBank’s telecommunications subsidiary forecasts stable operating profit

Ma did not give a reason for his resignation but has, over the past year, been retreating from business roles to focus on philanthropy. Last September, he resigned as Alibaba’s chairman. Softbank was one of Alibaba’s first major investors, and the stake is reportedly worth more than $100bn.

Last month the company warned of further losses on investments outside its Vision Fund, piling further pressure on Son’s bet on the struggling WeWork. It widened its forecast for a net loss in the year ended in March from 750bn to 900bn yen (£6.7bn).

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Softbank also warned of a $16.7bn (£13.3bn) loss on tech startups it has invested in through its Vision Fund this year. Son has been forced to go on the defence after some of his bets crashed in value.

Two of SoftBank’s biggest investments – Uber and WeWork – have both been hit hard by the social distancing measures sparked by the coronavirus crisis. In March, Son announced a surprise sale of $41bn of assets to slash the company’s huge debt pile.

Read more: SoftBank warns of steeper losses as it takes hit on WeWork

Softbank said Jack Ma was the only director to leave. It has nominated three new board directors for election: finance boss Yoshimitsu Goto, Cadence Design chief executive Lip-Bu Tan, and Yuko Kawamoto, Waseda Business School professor.

Shares in Tokyo-listed Softbank rose 1.03 per cent.

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