China’s Alibaba is forecasting annual revenue growth of 45% to 49% this year, a target that exceeds analysts’ estimates by 10 percentage points and elicited gasps of “wow” and loud clapping from investors at the e-commerce group’s Hangzhou headquarters. Alibaba’s forecast implies sales of up to $34.3bn in the year to the end of March, according to the Financial Times The bullish call highlights the rise of Alibaba, founded by former teacher – and now China’s richest man – Jack Ma. The e-commerce group has spawned an entire ecosystem comprising logistics, payment and cloud data centers which has made the company, along with fellow tech titans Baidu and Tencent, a big part of daily life in China. Last year revenues increased by 56%, but that included Lazada, the Southeast Asian e-commerce group that was consolidated into Alibaba’s numbers from April. Stripping that out, said Ms Wu, would have whittled last year’s growth of 56% back to 44-45%.