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Russia’s Prokhorov sells minority stake in NBA Brooklyn Nets to Alibaba co-founder

The deal did not include the club’s home arena, Barclays Center, which is owned by Prokhorov
Mikhail Prokhorov  Artyom Korotayev/TASS
Mikhail Prokhorov
© Artyom Korotayev/TASS

MOSCOW, April 13. /TASS/. Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov sold 49% of interest in his NBA Brooklyn Nets basketball club to billionaire Joe Tsai, an executive vice president and co-founder of China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group, the press service of the club announced in its statement.

The sale of the minority stake has been unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors and the sum of the transaction deal was not revealed. Various media reports estimated earlier the sum of the deal at some $2.3 billion.

The club’s press service also said that Prokhorov would remain the controlling owner of Brooklyn Nets at least until 2021, as according to the deal, Joe Tsai has an option of acquiring further shares that year. The deal did not include the club’s home arena, Barclays Center, which is owned by Prokhorov.

"As we looked for a partner for the team, the number one priority was to find someone who shares our global vision and passion for the future development of the Brooklyn Nets," Prokhorov was quoted as saying in the statement.

"It was important to us that we choose a partner who shares our commitment to the highest standards as we create a truly wonderful NBA franchise," Prokhorov said. "I welcome Joe to the organization and I am looking forward to working with him for years to come."

Commenting on the deal, Tsai said: "As a lifelong sports fan, I am very proud to join the Nets ownership and the NBA family."

"I lived in New York in the early days of my career and the City holds a special place in my heart," Tsai said. "I share the vision and culture that Mikhail Prokhorov, CEO Brett Yormark, General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson have put in place, and I look forward to being part of this great franchise."

Russian billionaire and former presidential candidate Prokhorov, 52, bought the then New Jersey Nets in 2010 and 45% of shares in Barclays Center for $223 million and later relocated the club to Brooklyn, which has a large Russian-speaking population.

He owned 80% of the Brooklyn Nets and 45% of Barclays Center until December 2015, when he gained full control of the team and the sports arena. According to reports by Bloomberg at that time, the Russian tycoon paid an additional $875 million in December 2015 for the club and $825 million for Barclays Center.