James Liang (梁建章), the long-standing CEO of Chinese online travel agency Ctrip, has resigned his post and remains as executive chairman of the board.
Liang will continue to serve as the company’s chairman and take the role of executive chairman of the board to focus on company strategy and initiatives relating to innovation, international expansion, information technology, investments and strategic alliances, Ctrip said in a statement on Wednesday.
He has been the soul of the company since its inception in 1999, when he co-founded Ctrip and made it prominent as one of the country’s first travel-booking websites.
The company did not specify the reason for Liang’s decision to step down.
COO Jane Sun (孫潔, pictured) will replace him as the new CEO and also join the board of directors.
“Jane and I have been working together for eleven years. She has played a critical role in defining the company’s strategic directions, managing business operations, making strategic investments and acquisitions, creating the current corporate structure, and cultivating a new generation of talented business leaders,” says Liang.
In terms of market cap, Ctrip (US$21 billion) is the second-most valuable, behind the Priceline Group (US$74.6 billion) and ahead of Expedia (US$19 billion) and TripAdvisor (US$7.4 billion).
Ctrip has ambitions to broaden out beyond selling China domestic and outbound travel to become a travel seller around the world. It is working on plans to arrange travel from the U.S. to China and Southeast Asia.