Continuing one of the biggest management reshuffles in the recent history of the Alibaba Group, the company on Monday announced that the e-commerce giant’s current Deputy Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Toby Xu will succeed long-standing CFO Maggie Wu effective April 1, 2022. It is the second major reshuffle since 2015, when Jack Ma passed the torch as CEO to Daniel Zhang and subsequently appointed him chairman in 2019.
Explaining Xu’s selection, Zhang said: “He swiftly demonstrated his solid capabilities and leadership in response to our continually evolving businesses. He took on increasing responsibilities that grew to include our strategic investments, in addition to financial management and operations. We are certain that Toby is the right person to serve as our new Group CFO and, together with the core management team, will help lead our team towards our next success.”
Xu joined Alibaba in July 2018, coming from PricewaterhouseCoopers where he was a partner for 11 years. He was appointed Deputy Chief Financial Officer in July 2019. He serves as a director of Sun Art Retail Group, Lianhua Supermarket Holdings and Red Star Macalline Group. Toby graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, with a bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1996. He is a member of the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Meanwhile, Wu will continue as a partner in the Alibaba Partnership and serve as an executive director on the Alibaba board. Since joining Alibaba almost fifteen years ago, she has helped lead three successful company public listings as CFO: Alibaba.com on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2007, and Alibaba Group Holding on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2019.
“The announcement of Alibaba’s CFO transition today is the culmination of extensive preparation over many years and a part of Alibaba’s leadership succession planning. The markets will always have ups and downs, but Alibaba has ambitious long-term goals. We are in a relay race and we must have new generations of talent to take the company forward,” said Wu in a statement.
In addition to the CFO succession, Alibaba also announced some other critical organisational changes to “better drive synergies across its consumer and wholesale commerce platforms both in China and globally” in an internal letter on Monday.
Starting from next year, the company will form two new business blocks – China Digital Commerce and International Digital Commerce – to invest in domestic consumption and globalisation.
The company’s consumer-facing and wholesale marketplaces in China will be merged and will be led by Alibaba founding member and partner Trudy Dai. Dai served as Alibaba’s chief customer officer from 2014 to 2017, when she became president of Industrial E-commerce, overseeing Alibaba.com, 1688.com, AliExpress and bargain marketplace Taobao Deals. In March this year, she became president of Alibaba’s community group buying platform Taocaicai.
Jiang Fan, who joined the company in 2013 will lead the newly formed International Digital Commerce unit that now includes cross-border retail platform AliExpress, wholesale trading platform Alibaba.com and Southeast Asian e-commerce platform Lazada.
The management reshuffle comes as the company navigates a new regulatory environment amid Beijing’s crackdown on the country’s tech sector. This year, Alibaba and on-demand service provider Meituan were hit with antitrust fines of US$2.8 billion and US$530 million, respectively. A cybersecurity review into ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing also recently resulted in the firm announcing its exit from the New York Stock Exchange just months after its IPO. And LinkedIn pulled its platform out of China in October, replacing it with an app stripped of all social capabilities.