Alibaba shares tumble after SoftBank reportedly sells most of its stake

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing subsidiary of Alibaba, unveiled its ChatGPT-style product Tongyi Qianwen during the 2023 Alibaba Cloud Summit on Tuesday morning.

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Alibaba shares dropped nearly 3% in after-hours trading after regulatory files revealed that SoftBank has sold a majority of its stake in the company.

SoftBank has sold roughly $7.2 billion worth of shares in the Chinese ecommerce giant via prepaid forward contracts, according to an analysis of the corporate filings by The Financial Times, published on Wednesday. Because of the sales, the report noted that SoftBank will now only maintain a 3.8% stake in Alibaba, which has a market cap over nearly $250 billion.

It was only about three years ago that SoftBank maintained a nearly 25% stake in the tech giant worth over $100 billion. At the time, Alibaba was SoftBank’s most valuable investment.

But over the years, SoftBank and its Vision Fund have been posting huge quarterly losses amid a slowdown in the tech sector that has hammered valuations. In February, the Vision Fund posted a pretax loss of 660 billion Japanese yen (or about $5 billion), marking the unit’s fourth consecutive quarterly loss.

At the time, Masayoshi Son, the founder and CEO of the Japanese technology conglomerate and holding company, said SoftBank would operate in a “defense” mode and be more “conservative.”

Son invested $20 million in Alibaba in 2000, helping the e-commerce startup grow into one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

In March, Alibaba said it would split into six business groups, with each unit able to receive its own funding and potentially go public. The move was “designed to unlock shareholder value and foster market competitiveness,” Alibaba said in a statement.

In 2020, Son stepped down from Alibaba’s board, shortly after Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma resigned from SoftBank’s board.

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