A little more than a year ago, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov sold 49% of his team to Joseph Tsai. Now, Tsai is taking full control of the team.
The team confirmed Friday that Prokhorov is selling his controlling interest in the team as well as in the Nets' arena, Barclays Center, to Tsai in a deal. Per the Nets, the transaction is expected to take place by the end of September and requires approval by the NBA's Board of Governors.
Official: Mikhail Prokhorov to sell controlling interest in Brooklyn Nets and full ownership of Barclays Center to Joe Tsai https://t.co/71RhUCI60u— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 16, 2019
In the interim, the Nets' current management team will continue to run Barclays Center and the team under new ownership. CEO of BSE Global Brett Yomark will oversee the transition to new ownership and then will depart from his role after that.
Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post reported earlier this week Tsai was closing in on a deal to buy the remaining shares of the team from Prokhorov. News of the pending agreement was also reported by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The deal is expected to cost $2.35 billion and would mark the highest amount ever paid for a sports franchise.
Last year, hedge fund owner David Tepper paid $2.2 billion to buy the NFL's Carolina Panthers and in 2017, Tillman Fertitta paid $2.2 billion to buy the NBA's Houston Rockets.
In a statement released by the team Friday, Prokhorov said: "It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal. The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy. Without Brett’s innovative foresight and leadership, we would not be where we are today with the Nets and Barclays Center."
Tsai, the co-founder of the China-based global internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., paid $1 billion for his 49% share last April. The deal allowed Tsai to acquire further shares of the team before the start of the 2021-22 season for an additional $1.35 billion. If Tsai signs off on the deal, he will be exercising his right to buy out Prokhorov two seasons early.
Per Forbes, Tsai's estimated net worth is $9.3 billion.
Prokhorov bought the Nets in 2010 and the Russian oversaw the Nets' move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The sale of shares to Tsai in 2018 did not include the Barclays Center, which Prokhorov's company will continue to own. However, the Post reported in March that Tsai was in talks to buy Barclays as well as the new Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The Post reports that the NBA pushes its owners to also own their arenas, which is one of the reasons Tsai will also be acquiring the Barclays Center at some point.
This summer has been a massive one for the Nets, as they reeled two of the biggest names in free agency: forward Kevin Durant and guard Kyrie Irving. Those additions -- plus other offseason moves by Brooklyn to shore up its depth -- have the Nets looking like a favorite to rise quickly in the Eastern Conference. That comes after a 42-40 season and playoff appearance in 2018-19 that confounded most experts.