Jack Ma loses $1.9 billion as Alibaba sales miss estimates

Alibaba founder Jack Ma waiting for trading to open at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 19, 2014, the day the company was listed. -- PHOTO: AFP
Alibaba founder Jack Ma waiting for trading to open at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 19, 2014, the day the company was listed. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese billionaire Jack Ma's fortune dropped US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) on Thursday, the most among the world's 400 richest people, as his Alibaba Group Holding shares posted a record slump after the company missed revenue estimates.

The decline allowed property tycoon Wang Jianlin to recapture the title of China's richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, placing him US$400 million ahead of Mr Ma, who's still worth US$26.3 billion.

Mr Ma, the 50-year-old chairman of the world's largest collection of e-commerce websites, has seen his net worth fall US$4.1 billion since Alibaba closed at a record Nov 10.

"I think Jack Ma's fortune has a lot of room to grow," said Mr Wang Weidong, an analyst at IResearch, a Shanghai-based Internet consulting firm.

"He still has a lot of assets whose value haven't been fully unlocked."

Alibaba's revenue was 26.2 billion yuan (S$5.7 billion) in the third quarter, compared with the 27.6 billion-yuan average of 25 analyst estimates.

Ads on mobile phones generate less money than those on desktop computers because of their smaller screens, and transactions on the Tmall platform grew at a slower pace, Alibaba reported On Thursday.

That led its shares to tumble 8.8 per cent to US$89.81 at the close in New York on Thursday, the lowest since Oct 20, a month after its trading debut.

Mr Wang Jianlin's flagship property company and cinema operator sold shares in two public offerings in the past month.

Shares of Wanda Cinema Line Co have more than doubled since it started trading on Jan 22 on the Shenzhen exchange.

Mr Ma had become China's richest person ahead of Alibaba's initial public offering in September 2014.

He briefly overtook Hong Kong's Mr Li Ka Shing as Asia's richest, riding a surge in Alibaba stock, which jumped as much as 75 per cent after the stock sale.

More than half of Mr Ma's wealth comes from his 6.3 per cent stake in Alibaba, valued at US$14 billion.

Almost all of the billionaire's shares are controlled through two British Virgin Islands-based holding companies. He also holds shares in a Cayman Islands entity he controls with Mr Joseph Tsai.

Mr Tsai, the company's executive vice-chairman, lost US$547 million on Thursday, taking his net worth down to US$5.8 billion.

Mr Ma also controls almost half of Zhejiang Ant Small & Micro Financial Services Group, a closely held finance unit and owner of Alipay, a service similar to PayPal.