Alibaba's Ma says he's not the reason for Bartz's departure

HANGZHOU, China Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:58am EDT

Chairman and Chief Executive of Alibaba Group Jack Ma delivers a speech at the 8th Netrepreneur Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province September 10, 2011. REUTERS/Steven Shi

Chairman and Chief Executive of Alibaba Group Jack Ma delivers a speech at the 8th Netrepreneur Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province September 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Steven Shi

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HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - China's Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma said on Saturday he was not the reason for the departure of Yahoo Inc's chief executive.

Yahoo, which owns about 40 percent of Alibaba Group, fired its chief executive Carol Bartz on Wednesday ending a tumultuous tenure that saw the relationship between Yahoo and Alibaba fray precipitously.

Ma told the annual gathering of entrepreneurs that contrary to popular belief, he was not the reason for the departure of Yahoo's CEO.

"Over the past couple of days, the Yahoo CEO got fired, but it had nothing to do with me," Ma said at the beginning of his speech.

Ma and Bartz had a difficult relationship exacerbated by Ma's desire to buy back Yahoo's stake in his company and Yahoo's unwillingness to sell.

In May, Yahoo announced that it was unaware that Ma had spun-off its e-payment unit, Alipay, to a company wholly-owned by Ma. Alibaba countered saying Yahoo was well aware of the Alipay transfer and that it had done so to comply with domestic regulations.

The two sides and Softbank Corp settled the matter in late July.

Alibaba recently made forays in mobile, search and logistics in order to beef up its different e-commerce platforms.

Ma said Alibaba is aiming for 1 trillion yuan ($157 billion) in transaction value next year on its Taobao platform.

On Friday, Alibaba said it will launch an English version of its mobile operating system, Aliyun OS, sometime this month and a tablet running on that platform within the next two months.

"When I hear the word competition I get very excited," Ma said.

"I decided to get into search so that Baidu cannot sleep at night," Ma said adding that a monopolistic market without competition is ultimately detrimental to the user.

Alibaba Group launched Etao late last year as an e-commerce-focused search engine. Baidu Inc is China's largest search engine with more than 80 percent of the search market by traffic.

Alibaba Group is the parent company of Alibaba.com, Taobao Mall, Taobao.com, Etao and Alibaba Cloud Computing. ($1 = 6.384 Chinese Yuan)

(Reporting by Melanie Lee; Editing by)

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