Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s focus during the Covid-19 pandemic has been to find and provide personal protective equipment for health-care workers, according to President Michael Evans.
In an interview with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg TV, Evans said he personally called New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ask how his company could aid the procurement of PPE for hospitals within the state. In April, Cuomo thanked Alibaba co-founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai along with the Chinese government for the delivery of 1,000 ventilators to the state. Here were some other key insights from the discussion:
Evans said, “substantially everybody in China is back in Alibaba’s offices, but almost all of Alibaba’s international employees are working from home.” Evans, who is based in New York, was traveling to China 15 to 20 times per year before the pandemic.
When asked about Ant Group seeking a valuation north of $200 billion as it plans to go public in Hong Kong and Shanghai, Evans said that while Alibaba owns a 33% stake in Ant, the firm “still operates as an independent company.”
Evans said it is “terrific” that Ant is planning a dual listing. He expects the company to keep growing in China and beyond.Ant Group is the parent of China’s largest mobile payment app, Alipay, which competes with Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat Pay.Over the last few months, chief executive officers have been telling Evans that business is growing much faster than expected in China.
He attributes this to the “rapid recovery in China” and “repatriation effect of no Chinese people traveling abroad and spending money, but are now buying U.S. products in China.”On the situation in Hong Kong, Evans made it clear that Alibaba is a corporation and not part of the government: “The geopolitical tensions between the U.S., China and Hong Kong are not areas that we will be able to resolve or have a material impact on us moving one way or another.”Alibaba shares have been steadily climbing in recent weeks, bolstered by optimism about China’s recovery and confidence in Asian equities despite the risk of escalating tensions between Beijing and Washington.
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