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Alibaba chairman Joe Tsai says e-commerce giant he co-founded is set to bounce back in CNBC interview

Alibaba Group Holding is set for a comeback after several years of rising competition and macroeconomic pressures, according to the company's co-founder and chairman Joe Tsai, who is backing the Chinese e-commerce giant to bounce back.

Alibaba is "a lot more confident" about its position as one of China's top e-commerce players as it undergoes a restructuring process with new management in place, Tsai told US media outlet CNBC in a report published on Monday. "Where we didn't feel as confident as before, we felt the competitive pressure, but now we're back," Tsai said.

Tsai said that in recent years Alibaba had not done as well as previously in "delivering performance" for reasons including competition, economic headwinds, the regulatory environment and rising geopolitical tensions.

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But it "comes down to" how well Alibaba competes and how well it serves its customers, and those are the areas the company is trying to improve through the restructuring, said Tsai. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

Alibaba in March last year announced a major overhaul of its sprawling empire, splitting its businesses into six independently-run entities. A plan to spin off its cloud unit was later cancelled. An initial public offering of its logistics unit Cainiao is being held back for better timing, said Tsai in the interview.

Alibaba has faced intense competition from the likes of budget shopping firm PDD Holdings, which operates Pinduoduo in China and Temu overseas, and ByteDance, whose short video app Douyin has gained traction in online shopping on the mainland.

In November, PDD's market cap briefly overtook Alibaba's, reaching US$192 billion on Nasdaq, while Alibaba's valuation fell below US$190 billion.

"The pricing competition is definitely there, and we have to take a few lessons from our competitors," Tsai told CNBC. "But the good thing is that it can be done. It's within our control."

Tsai in June last year took over as Alibaba chairman after several years away from day-to-day operations, succeeding Daniel Zhang Yong, who was to focus on the group's cloud unit before stepping down in September.

A management reshuffle included installing Eddie Wu Yongming as the new chief executive at Taobao and Tmall Group, Alibaba's most important profit earner. Wu also heads the cloud unit.

Alibaba still faces headwinds in restoring growth. It reported lower-than-expected financial results in the December quarter earlier this month, with net income attributable to ordinary shareholders down 69 per cent year on year, and net income down 4 per cent under non-generally accepted accounting principles.

The company attributed the profit drop primarily to losses from its equity investments and the impairment of intangible assets at hypermarket Sun Art and impairment of goodwill at its video platform Youku.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2024 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.