Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma will unveil a succession plan on Monday, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday, and a spokesman for the company denied a New York Times report that he would retire that day.
The SCMP, owned by Alibaba, said China's most famous technology billionaire "will reveal a succession strategy" on Monday, its 54th anniversary, but will remain the company's chief executive in the foreseeable future.
The New York Times reported that the former billionaire master planned to use his birthday to announce his retirement as president of Alibaba to focus on philanthropy.
The newspaper quoted Ma as saying that the decision was "the beginning of an era."
But a spokesperson for Alibaba told the SCMP that the New York Times story "was taken out of context and objectively incorrect."
"A spokesperson for Alibaba said that Ma is still the company's chief executive and will provide transition plans for a significant period of time," the SCMP wrote.
The newspaper added that Monday's succession strategy was part of a plan "to prepare a generation of younger executives to take over" the company.
Ma was an English teacher before starting Alibaba in 1999 and turned her into a multi-billion dollar colossus on the Internet, becoming one of the richest men in the world and a revered figure in her homeland.
Its own value has soared along with that of the company, which has added cloud computing, movies and electronic payments to its growing portfolio and was valued at $ 420.8 billion when the stock market closed on Friday.
The New York Times report surprised many in the global business community because of Ma's comparative youth, especially in China, where it is not unusual for magnates to remain in place in their eighteen.
Alibaba did not return requests for comment on the Saturday after the story.
Ma resigned from the title of CEO of Alibaba in 2013, but remains a key figure within the company, as well as its most recognizable face.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV published on Friday, Ma hinted at his retirement plans, saying he wanted to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, one of the world's most prolific philanthropists.
"There are a lot of things that I can learn from Bill Gates, I can never be so rich, but one thing I can do is retire beforehand," he said.
The SCMP report published quotes from Ma himself, but did not indicate when exactly he would retire. Ma said he met with company executives 10 years ago to find out "what Alibaba would do without me."
"Anyone who knows me knows that I embrace the future, it's not about retiring, moving away or retreating, this is a systematic plan," said Ma.
The SCMP said Ma would be in Russia next week for the Alibaba business meetings, as well as an upcoming trip to South Africa and a planned speech on the company's investors' day in mid-September.