22 February 2019
Alibaba's Jack Ma is cashing in on a spurt in the company's share price this year. Photo: Reuters
Alibaba's Jack Ma is cashing in on a spurt in the company's share price this year. Photo: Reuters

As a tycoon trio offload shares, is it time for us to cash out?

How do you capitalize on a bull market run that lasts for nine months?

Sell in fall!

Well, this is what three mainland tycoons — interestingly, all of them bearing the surname Ma — have set out to do.

According to a regulatory filing this week, Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma plans to dispose up to 16 million shares of the company over a twelve-month period starting October. 

The shares represent about 9 percent of Ma’s holdings in the US-listed Chinese e-commerce giant. 

Apart from Ma, another top executive of Alibaba — Executive Vice Chairman Joseph Tsai — will also be offloading shares under a pre-arranged sale plan.

Tsai will sell as many as 5.5 million shares, representing 8 percent of his holdings, over the course of twelve months.

At today’s price, the planned sale by the two executives will amount to about HK$30 billion worth of transactions.

The disposal comes after Alibaba’s shares have almost doubled in value this year as global funds and investors piled into tech stocks amid a broader market rally.

As of now, Ma owns 178 million shares of Alibaba, which closed at US$177.1 in New York trading Thursday. As for Tsai, his holding is said to be 65 million shares.

According to a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Ma — who is currently China’s richest man — is reducing his stake “for wealth-planning purposes and to meet philanthropic commitments”.

Prior to the Alibaba announcement, we had news that Tencent Chairman Pony Ma sold two millions of shares worth around HK$645 million.

The disposals, which took place over a three-day period last week, were also aimed at raising funds for charitable purposes, according to reports.

The sale came after Tencent enjoyed a share price surge of 60 percent in a year.

Now, besides the Tencent and Alibaba chiefs, we have one more Ma who is cashing in on improved stock valuations.

We are talking about Ma Mingzhe, the Ping An Insurance chairman, who is set to make a lot of money from the initial public offering of an online insurance joint venture. 

Zhongan Online Property and Casualty Insurance, founded in 2013 by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Pony Ma and Ping An’s Ma Mingzhe, is selling up to US$1.5 billion worth of shares for a Hong Kong listing.

The offer, which will see orders being taken from Monday, will mean a big windfall for the founders.

Now, if all the Ma tycoons are selling, it is time for us, ordinary investors, to also cash out from the market?

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EJ Insight writer

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