Alibaba.com co-founder Joseph Tsai has reached an agreement to buy a 49% stake in the Brooklyn Nets, currently owned by Russian industrialist and financier Mikhail Prokhorov. According to Adrian Wojanarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN, the Chinese e-commerce titan will purchase 49% of the NBA franchise now, leaving Prokhorov as the majority owner and decision-maker, with an option to increase to a controlling position after four years. The deal is reported to be based on a franchise valuation of $2.3 billion.
Prokhorov acquired the Nets in 2010. Since then they have compiled a 221-342 record (39.3% winning rate) while hemorrhaging money. The ESPN article attributes their financial woes to veteran salaries, luxury tax payments, and the league’s worst local revenue.
Tsai’s purchase does not affect ownership of the Barclays Center, acquired by Prokhorov in 2015.