Nets minority shareholder Joseph Tsai has formally entered into an agreement with majority shareholder Mikhail Prokhorov to purchase full ownership of the franchise, the Nets confirmed today in a press release. As part of the deal, Prokhorov will also sell full ownership of the Barclays Center to Tsai.
The NBA’s Board of Governors still must officially approve the transaction, but that’s considered a mere formality. Tsai has long been expected to assume full ownership of the Nets since he bought a 49% stake in the team in April 2018. According to the press release, the arena and team sales are expected to close by the end of September.
“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago,” Tsai said in a statement. “He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank. I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”
According to reports from NetsDaily (Twitter link) and Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg, the total valuation for the Nets and the Barclays Center is $3.5 billion. The team – without the arena – was initially valued as $2.35 billion when Tsai bought his 49% stake last year.
Prokhorov will make out particularly well in the deal. When he assumed full ownership of the Nets and their arena in 2015, the team was valued at $875MM and the arena was valued at $825MM, for a total of $1.7 billion. The new total valuation of $3.5 billion is more than double that amount.
As we relayed on Thursday night, Nets CEO Brett Yormark is stepping down as team ownership changes hands. In their press release, the Nets confirmed that Yormark will oversee the transition to new ownership before “departing for a new role.”
Tsai, the co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, who is reportedly worth an estimated $9.9 billion, is expected to help the NBA grow its presence in China. He appears to have invested in the Nets at the right time — when he initially bought his 49% share last April, the team was coming off a 28-54 performance. The club boosted that mark to 42-40 last season, then made a huge splash in free agency by signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.