Sources: Prokhorov selling minority stake in Nets
Mikhail Prokhorov’s days as majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets could be numbered.
According to multiple league sources, the Russian billionaire agreed to sell 49 percent of the team to Joseph Tsai, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce company, Alibaba.
Sources also indicate that Prokhorov also agreed to give Tsai an option to buy a controlling interest in the the team to Tsai within four years. He will retain control of the team during that time. There is no indication when the sale agreement will be finalized, but Tsai will have to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors.
The deal also excludes the acquisition of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, according to league sources. Prokhorov owns the arena, and it’s reportedly expected that a new long-term lease for the Nets to remain there will soon hit the negotiating table.
Prokhorov bought the Nets back in 2009, and was instrumental in helping them move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. He fully endorsed the team’s moves from a basketball operations standpoint, including the infamous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics that failed miserably.
The 53-year-old Tsai has reportedly been interested in the Nets sale for weeks. His net worth is estimated at $8.8 billion by Forbes, about the same as Prokhorov’s.
I believe this is a sign that Prokhorov eventually does want to sell his entire stake in the Nets. When he bought the Nets back in 2009, he paid $223 million. They are now reportedly worth $2.3 billion. His investment paid off 10-fold, and he believes it’s time to take his money and run.
As long as Tsai does not try and interfere with the basketball operations side, I see this as a good thing for the franchise. If he and Prokhorov continue to let Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson do their jobs, all will be well. The Nets are no longer the laughingstocks of the NBA, so Prokhorov is choosing an excellent time to sell high.