Jack Ma halts plans to cut his Alibaba (BABA) stake after shares drop

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Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group in Shanghai China on Dec. 5th, 2017.

Justin Solomon | CNBC

Alibaba founder Jack Ma held off on plans to trim his stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant after the share price fell.

Ma has not sold a single share, Alibaba’s Chief People Officer Jane Jiang told employees in an internal memo seen by CNBC. Alibaba’s stock is currently trading below the company’s actual value, Jiang said, citing this as a reason Ma has not cut his stake.

Alibaba’s regulatory filings last week revealed Ma is looking to sell 10 million shares at a value of around $870 million. Those plans were revealed in a regulatory filing on Nov. 16, the day Alibaba released its September quarter earnings.

As part of its earnings release, Alibaba said it would no longer proceed with a spinoff of its cloud computing business, something investors were closely monitoring. This sent shares tumbling around 9%.

However, the plans to sell shares were made in August and coincidentally were made public on Nov. 16, Jiang said.

In August, Alibaba’s U.S.-listed shares were trading as high as $101. On Wednesday, they closed at $78.94. That would mean if Ma sold 10 million shares, it would net around $789.4 million, significantly lower than the $870 million he was seeking.

Jiang added that Ma’s plan to sell down his stake at a higher selling price shows his confidence in the business.

Alibaba was not immediately available for comment.

Ma and his empire were targeted by Beijing as part of a broader crackdown on China’s technology sector that sought to reign in the power of its domestic giants.

The Alibaba founder has dedicated his time to teaching and research in areas such as agricultural science.

Alibaba has gone through a historic shakeup this year in which it split the company into six business groups and changed its CEO.

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