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SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son ended his company’s annual shareholder meeting with a surprise Thursday by announcing he’s stepping down from the board of Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The billionaire said his departure shouldn’t be interpreted as signifying any disagreements, even though Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma is quitting SoftBank’s board at the same time. Ma and Son have maintained a close friendship since the Japanese entrepreneur was an early investor in Alibaba and helped it along to its current value of roughly $600 billion, calling it the crown jewel of SoftBank’s portfolio.

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