Alibaba, China’s E-Commerce Giant, Will Split Into Six Units

China’s Alibaba Group said on Tuesday that it would become a holding company with six different business groups, in a major reshuffle of the country’s biggest e-commerce firm.

Alibaba described the restructuring was the “most significant” organizational overhaul in its 24-year history. It said each unit will have its own chief executive and board of directors to allow for quicker decision-making.

The units will be allowed to seek outside capital with an eye toward eventual initial public offerings. Only its China e-commerce unit, Taobao Tmall Commerce Group, will remain a wholly-owned Alibaba entity.

In premarket trading, Alibaba’s U.S.-listed shares rose 9 percent.

The restructuring comes one day after Alibaba’s billionaire founder, Jack Ma, returned to mainland China after a yearlong absence from the country, according to local media reports. The whereabouts of Mr. Ma, China’s most famous businessman, had become a source of intrigue after he disappeared from the public eye after criticizing Chinese regulators for stifling innovation at Ant Group, Alibaba’s financial technology sister company.

His disappearance symbolized China’s crackdown on its technology sector and how the government sought to keep even its most powerful companies under its thumb.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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