The Top 5 Alibaba Shareholders

Alibaba (BABA), the global leader by volume in the e-commerce sector, issued a record-shattering $25 billion IPO in September 2014. The company's IPO in New York set a record as the world's biggest public stock offering. The company is likened to Amazon, eBay, PayPal, and Google all rolled into one.

Alibaba has grown to be one of China's largest companies, with extensive influence in the world. It first gained control over the Chinese e-commerce market, with a reported 69% of online retail sales in China going through the company in 2021. It offers a suite of products for storefronts that want to compete in the e-commerce market. The company's key business segments include mobile media and entertainment, cloud computing, and core commerce, along with other developing initiatives.

Key Takeaways

  • Alibaba, one of the world's largest companies, IPO'd in September 2014 with a record-breaking $25 billion at the time.
  • The company is a global e-commerce platform based in China.
  • Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba, is no longer the company’s largest shareholder, having retired from the company last year.
  • Joseph Tsai, Ma’s co-founder at Alibaba, is the second-largest shareholder behind Softbank. 
  • Altaba, Blackrock, and T. Rowe Price round out the top five shareholders.

About Alibaba

Alibaba co-founder and chair Jack Ma was the largest individual shareholder of the company for many years. In 2019, Ma relinquished much of his ownership stake in Alibaba at the urging of the Chinese government. In the early 1990s, Ma realized China lacked technology in the business world. He founded China Pages, one of China's first Internet companies, which created a website for businesses, and then went on to work for an Internet company that was backed by the Chinese government. It wasn't until 1999, though, that he decided to branch out on his own and co-founded Alibaba.

The company first developed its name in China before going global. In 2005, the company attracted the attention of Yahoo!, which took out a majority stake in the company. According to Forbes, Ma has a net worth of $57.9 billion and is one of the wealthiest people in the world. He also owns a stake in the Chinese media and entertainment company Huayi Brothers.

Here are Alibaba's five largest individual and institutional shareholders as of Q1 2022, unless otherwise indicated.

1. Softbank Group 

Softbank's stake in Alibaba is equivalent to approximately 25% of the company; it is Alibaba's largest shareholder. Softbank invested $20 million in Alibaba back in 2000 when it was a young startup. In fact, Softbank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son was the one that bought into Alibaba.

Softbank’s Alibaba stake is now worth nearly $143 billion. Softbank sold part of its stake in 2019, booking over $11 billion in pre-tax profits. Then in July 2020, the company is said to have sold an additional $2.2 billion of its stake in Alibaba. However, the deal is not expected to be settled until June 2024.

2. Joseph Tsai

Alibaba co-founder and vice-chair Joseph Tsai is the second-largest shareholder in the company, with 11.9% of the outstanding stock. Tsai is a Taiwanese-Canadian businessman who met Ma while working for the Hong Kong branch of an investment company.

Tsai quit his high-paying job so the two could work together to create the online import-export marketplace that would eventually become Alibaba. According to Forbes, Tsai's net worth is $12.1 billion. He also owns a 49% stake in the Brooklyn Nets NBA basketball team and has two degrees from Yale.

3. Jack Ma

Jack Ma is Alibaba's co-founder and former executive chair. In 2020, Ma retired as the company's executive chair. It was reported that his decision to step down from his formal business role with the company was so that he could focus more on his philanthropic endeavors.

In 2020, Ma reduced his stake in Alibaba from 6.2% to 4.8%. Alibaba did not disclose the average selling price of Ma's investment, although the company's share price has risen significantly since in the last several years, and especially in the last year as more people have been forced to shop online for their essential items in order to prevent the spread of the novel virus.

4. Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs is a global investment bank and asset management firm that was founded in New York in 1869. It offers a range of services including funds, account management, retirement plans, and advisory services for individuals, corporations, and other institutions. Goldman owns 1.46% of Alibaba, as of Q1 2022, worth roughly $4.7 billion.

5. Primecap Mgmt.

The fifth-largest shareholder in Alibaba is Primecap, which owns around 0.65% of BABA's total shares outstanding shares. Primecap manages equity portfolios for mutual funds and other institutional investors with about $145 billion of AUM as of Q1 2022.

Who Is Alibaba’s Biggest Shareholder?

Japan's Softbank is believed to be BABA's largest shareholder, owning around 25% of the company. Its stake used to be larger, and there are rumors that it may sell even more in the near future.

Is Alibaba Bigger Than Amazon?

Amazon is larger. In terms of market cap, Amazon's $1.4 trillion value is more than five times bigger than BABA's $268 billion. Amazon's revenue also outpaced Alibaba by around 4x in 2021.

Is Alibaba Listed In the U.S.?

Alibaba is a Chinese company with ADRs listed on U.S. exchanges under the ticker BABA.

Article Sources
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  4. Bloomberg. "Jack Ma Ends 20-Year Reign Over Alibaba Wealth Creation Empire."

  5. Reuters. "A stock and a hard place: SoftBank's $150 billion Alibaba warchest in spotlight."

  6. Yahoo Finance. "SoftBank Quietly Sells Another $2.2 Billion of Its Alibaba Stake."

  7. Forbes. "Joseph Tsai."

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