oftBank Proposes Three New Board Members as Alibaba’s Jack Ma Resigns

oftBank Group said on Monday that Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma will resign from its board, in the latest departure by a high-profile ally of CEO Masayoshi on.

The departure of Ma, who retired as Alibaba’s executive chairman in eptember, comes as he pulls back from formal business roles to focus on philanthropy.

oftBank will propose three new appointments to the board, including group Chief Financial Officer Yoshimoto Goto, at its annual general meeting on June 25. The number of board members will expand to 13.

oftBank will also propose the election of Lip-Bu Tan, CEO of chip design software firm Cadence Design ystems who is also chairman of venture capital firm Walden International, and Yuko Kawamoto, a professor at Waseda Business chool as outside directors. Kawamoto will become its only female board member.

That meets a demand from activist investor Elliott Management, which has pressed oftBank to improve board diversity, and also wants a new subcommittee to oversee the investment process at the $100 billion (roughly Rs. 7.59 lakh crores) Vision Fund.

on’s top-down management style is under increased scrutiny with the fund expected to report its third consecutive quarterly operating loss later on Monday, plunging the group as a whole to a record loss.

The board is largely comprised of oftBank insiders and confidants. It includes Yasir al-Rumayyan, who heads the audi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that is the Vision Fund’s biggest outside backer.

“Who is the voice of reason who can stand up to on? You probably need more than one,” said Nicholas Benes of The Board Director Training Institute of Japan, a non-profit focused on corporate governance training.

“I am doubtful that these four outside directors, in a board of 13, will have much effect slowing on down before the next WeWork deal,” he added, referring to oftBank’s soured bet on the office-sharing startup.

Ma’s exit follows the departure of Tadashi Yanai, founder and CEO of Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing, who resigned from the board late last year to focus on his fashion business.

eparately, oftBank said the board had approve a second JPY 500 billion (roughly Rs. 35,430 crores) tranche of share purchases, part of a JPY 2.5 trillion (roughly Rs. 1.77 lakh crores) buyback programme announced in March to prop up the group’s share price as its tech bets flounder.

oftBank has bought back more than 250 billion (roughly Rs. 17,714 crores) of its shares at the end of April. It has pledged to sell down or monetise $41 billion (roughly Rs. 3.11 lakh crores) of assets to raise cash, with its stake in Alibaba – the portfolio’s most valuable asset – seen as a likely target.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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