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Meme equity investor Ryan Cohen launches activist campaign at Alibaba

Ryan Cohen, the popular investor among meme stock traders, is urging Alibaba to speed up its share buyback plan after acquiring a minority stake in the Chinese e-commerce group.

The exact size of the stake could not be determined but it is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to people familiar with the matter. Cohen started lobbying Ali Babawhich has a market cap of more than $300 billion, in the second half of last year, they said.

Cohen is one of the most important figures in the retail boom and was behind the stock market rallies of companies such as GameStop and Bed, bath and beyond.

News of his stance, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes months after Alibaba announced he was adding $15 billion in firepower to its share buyback program which runs until the end of the 2025 financial year.

It’s unclear how much influence Cohen exerted over Alibaba to act, given the size of his stake relative to the company’s market value. However, its popularity among social media-savvy retail investors may require the company to pay more attention to its demands to avoid being targeted by its followers.

A rep for Cohen declined to comment.

Alibaba has been struggle lately partly because of the impact of China’s strict zero-Covid lockdowns, which have hurt consumer spending, and a tighter regulatory environment in its home market. Alibaba paid a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine in 2021 and pledged to end the practice of forcing some of its sellers to stay away from rival e-commerce platforms.

Alibaba’s share price has fallen more than 60% since its peak in late 2020 due to various headwinds, including government intervention to block the listing of its sister company Ant Group two years ago. years.

Cohen built his fortune as the co-founder of Chewy, the pet supply retailer he sold for $3.35 billion in 2017. He joined GameStop’s board of directors in January 2021 after it disclosed a 13% stake in the company and helped drive its share price higher in what many see as one of the catalysts for the retailer’s stock market rally.

The 37-year-old’s investment in a Chinese company comes as many investors have reduced their exposure to the country following Beijing’s tech crackdown.

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