Chinese Online Firm Alibaba Names Jonathan Lu CEO

Alibaba CEO Jonathan Lu P

Analysts expect the e-commerce giant, in which Yahoo owns a stake, to file for an IPO before the end of the year.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group named Jonathan Lu CEO on Monday, replacing founder Jack Ma, who will stay on as executive chairman and the company’s chief strategist.

The leadership change at the company, in which Yahoo has a stake, comes at a time of market expectations that Alibaba is preparing for an IPO.

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Lu, 43, will assume his new post on May 10, the company said in a statement.

Last May, Alibaba bought back about half of Yahoo’s 40 percent stake in the company. The deal raised an estimated $7.1 billion for Yahoo under new CEO Marissa Mayer. And Yahoo stock hit a 52-week high earlier this month after Barclays Capital upgraded its stock rating to "buy," arguing that "the value of Yahoo's minority stakes in Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan are not fully reflected in Yahoo shares."

Alibaba also ended its Hong Kong stock listing last May.

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“The fact that Lu was appointed to key positions in challenging times, shows that Jack Ma has a lot of faith in him,” Wendy Huang, an analyst at CIMB Securities in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News in an interview. The “market has been expecting an IPO before the end of the year,” she added.

Lu has run Taobao, Alibaba’s online shopping platform, since 2010. An hybrid, the shopping site has more than 500 million registered users and is one of the 20 most-visited web sites in the world, according to Alibaba.