Jack Ma to step down as president of academy he founded: Financial Times

Mr Jack Ma abruptly fell from grace after blasting financial regulators in a public speech last October.
Mr Jack Ma abruptly fell from grace after blasting financial regulators in a public speech last October.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Mr Jack Ma will step down as president of Hupan University, an elite business academy he co-founded six years ago, amid pressure from Beijing, the Financial Times reported.

The move comes as the Chinese authorities crack down on the influence of the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Mr Ma abruptly fell from grace after blasting financial regulators in a public speech last October. Since then, his highly anticipated initial public offering by Ant Group has been put on hold, and Mr Ma has largely stayed out of public view.

Hupan University, a training programme for executives and entrepreneurs located in Hangzhou, Mr Ma's home town, had recently changed its name to Hupan Innovation Centre, dropping the word "university" because it is not a degree-granting educational institution. The school will also restructure its curriculum because the authorities were concerned that Mr Ma was building a network at odds with the Communist Party's objectives, the FT reported.

Mr Ma was intent to remain connected to the school, the newspaper said, but would not hold any high-level official title. Hupan had suspended enrolment of new students earlier, the paper said.

Alibaba referred the FT's questions to Hupan, which did not respond to requests to the newspaper for comment.