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Is Alibaba’s Jack Ma looking to borrow $2 billion against his stock?

Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.
Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.Photograph by ChinaFotoPress — ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Two of Alibaba Group Holding’s (BABA) top brass are looking to borrow more than $2 billion against their holdings of the company’s stock, according to Bloomberg.

Founder and chairman Jack Ma, together with vice-chairman Joseph Tsai, are looking to plow at least some of the money into Blue Pool Capital, the Hong Kong-based investment vehicle set up by Tsai’s family office over a decade ago, Bloomberg cited ‘people familiar with the matter’ as saying.

They’ve also hired Wall Street’s finance to help them with the project, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Morgan Stanley Inc. (MS) and Credit Suisse Group AG (CS), Bloomberg said.

The deal will be able to go through once the post-IPO lock-up period restricting the two’s shareholdings ends on Sept. 21.

For Ma and Tsai, borrowing against their stock could be a convenient way of diversifying their financial assets beyond Alibaba while honoring their pledge at the company’s last earnings call not to sell down when the lock-up period ends.

Quite how much Alibaba stock they’ll have to pledge to raise that money is, to say the least, a pretty fast-moving target at the moment.Last month, the e-commerce giant’s shares fell below their listing price for the first time. They’ve now fallen from a peak of nearly over $115 last November to $66.47 as of Thursday’s close, and are down 15% since Aug. 11, when China devalued the yuan for the first time in over 20 years. That move had sparked fears that Beijing may let the currency slide further, something that would erode the dollar value of Alibaba’s income stream, which comes overwhelmingly from its home market.

The company still has a market capitalization of $167 billion, however.