Alibaba has eased back into profit in the three months to the end of June ©Getty Images

Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and cloud computing company that is one of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s most important commercial partners, has eased back into profit over the three months to end-June 2021.

The Hangzhou-based company posted net income of CNY42.8 billion (£4.75 billion/$6.6 billion/€5.6 billion).

This was down eight per cent on the corresponding year-earlier quarter.

The latest figure was achieved on revenue of CNY205.7 billion (£22.8 billion/$31.9 billion/€27 billion), a year-over-year advance of 34 per cent, or 22 per cent excluding the contribution of a recently-acquired chain of supermarkets.

The company had fallen into the red in the previous quarter after incurring a heavy fine at the hands of Chinese regulators.

The CNY7.65 billion (£849 million/$1.19 billion/€1 billion) loss was reported to be the group’s first since its listing in the United States six years ago.

The hefty CNY18.2 billion (£2 billion/$2.8 billion/€2.4 billion) fine followed a period marked by an apparent trial of strength involving Jack Ma, the company’s high-profile founder, and Xi Jinping, China’s strongman-President.

These tensions erupted at a delicate moment for the IOC, which is leaning heavily on Alibaba to update its broadcast and ticketing operations.

Alibaba chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang said he believed in the growth of the Chinese economy ©Getty Images
Alibaba chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang said he believed in the growth of the Chinese economy ©Getty Images

Moreover, the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics, earmarked for the Chinese capital Beijing, are only six months away and looking set to be every bit as controversial as the COVID-plagued Tokyo 2020 Games.

In Beijing’s case, this is for a string of reasons geared to international geopolitics and human rights issues.

Alibaba is the IOC’s exclusive worldwide partner for cloud infrastructure and services, ticketing and e-commerce platform services.

It has been a member of The Olympic Partner (TOP) worldwide sponsorship programme since 2017, with the deal - running until 2028 - announced by Ma and IOC President Thomas Bach at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Not only has the group been working hard with the IOC to modernise Olympic merchandising and ticketing systems, its cloud technology has been quietly revolutionising the back-end of Olympic broadcasting.

This has been an important factor in minimising the number of technical staff on the ground in Tokyo this summer.

Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s chairman and chief executive, said he believed in the growth of the Chinese economy.

“Over more than twenty years of growth, we have developed a company that spans across both consumer and industrial internet, with multiple engines driving our long-term growth,” Zhang said.