Alibaba chief executive and chairman Daniel Zhang will step down later this year to focus on the retail giant’s cloud business.

Zhang joined Alibaba in 2007 and took on the roles of chief executive in 2015 and chairman in 2019, succeeding Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma. 

The chief executive role will be acquired by Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall Group chairman Eddie Yongming Wu, while executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai will become the new chairman. Both Wu and Tsai will begin their new roles on September 10.

The management reshuffle comes after Alibaba saw increased regulatory scrutiny following its announcement in March that it would restructure into six units – each with its own board and chief executive.

Its China-facing ecommerce division will stay entirely owned by Alibaba, but the other five units will be spun off.

In a memo to staff seen by Reuters, Zhang said the cloud spin-off was approaching a “crucial stage”, hence his decision to turn his attention to the business.

He said: “From a corporate governance perspective, we also need clear separation between the board and management team as the Cloud Intelligence Group proceeds down the path to becoming an independent public company.

“It would be inappropriate for me to continue serving as chairman and chief executive of both companies at the same time during the spin-off process.”

Alibaba thanked Zhang for his “extraordinary leadership in navigating unprecedented uncertainties affecting the company’s business over the past few years”.