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'I don't want to die at the office' -- Alibaba's Ma looks to retirement

Founder of Chinese e-commerce group underlines his plans to move on

HONG KONG -- Jack Ma Yun, founder of Alibaba Group Holding, on Friday shared his hopes for early retirement, three years after he stepped down as chief executive officer of the Chinese e-commerce company.

"I don't want to die at the office," said Ma, 52, speaking at a closed-door conference in Hong Kong and broadcast live on Facebook. "For e-commerce, I've already spent 17 years to build it. I want to retire early. I really want to ... start [looking] at the world."

Ma, who has remained executive chairman of Alibaba, decided to leave day-to-day operation of the group to his successor Daniel Zhang Yong as CEO. "To make sure a company doesn't age and make no mistakes, I chose to believe the younger generation," he said in a speech in May 2013.

But Ma did not elaborate further on Friday whether he would step down as chairman, nor did he give a timeline for his retirement. Nonetheless, his resignation as chief executive made him the first among his Chinese internet peers, including Pony Ma Huateng of Tencent Holdings and Baidu's Robin Li Yanhong, to step back from daily operations.

In 1999, Ma, a former English teacher, founded what later became China's largest e-commerce company by sales, ahead of rival JD.com.

The company said its online shopping sites, including Taobao and Tmall, posted record sales of 121 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) on its annual Singles' Day event on Nov. 11 this year, up 32% from a year ago.

In 2014, Hangzhou-based Alibaba was listed in New York in a $25 billion initial public offering, the largest in the world that year. With a market capitalization of $218 billion, the group has diversified into cloud computing, media and entertainment in recent years.

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