Joseph Tsai Officially Reaches Deal To Become Nets' Sole Owner

Ryan Chatelain
August 16, 2019 - 9:59 am
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Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to sell his controlling interest in the Brooklyn Nets to Joseph Tsai, making the tech billionaire the team's sole owner.

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The Nets announced the agreement Friday. Tsai will also acquire Barclays Center, the Nets' arena. The sale is expected to be completed in September.

Tsai, who co-founded the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, bought a 49% stake in the Nets in 2018 for $1.1 billion, a deal that included an option to take control of the team. His purchase of the remaining 51% share of the Nets will require approval from the NBA Board of Governors.

The total price Tsai, 55, is paying for the franchise -- which includes the earlier minority-stake purchase but not Barclays Center -- is reportedly $2.35 billion, making it the most money ever paid for a sports team, surpassing the $2.2 billion spent for the Carolina Panthers last year and the Houston Rockets in 2017.

Joseph Tsai with his wife, Clara Wu Tsai
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

"I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago," Tsai said in a news release issued by the team. "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."

Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, bought an 80% stake in the then-New Jersey Nets in 2010, moved the team to Brooklyn in 2012 and took full ownership in 2015.

"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," he said. "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."

The Nets' current management team will continue to run the venue and team under new ownership, although Brett Yormark, the Nets' and Barclays Center's CEO, will leave for a new role after overseeing the transition to new ownership. Yormark will announce his next career move in the coming weeks, the Nets said. 

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Yorkmark, who has been the Nets' CEO since 2005, was instrumental in the team's move from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012, which has elevated its brand. And he has overseen all facets of Barclays Center, including operations, event scheduling, sales and marketing. 

"Without Brett’s innovative foresight and leadership, we would not be where we are today with the Nets and Barclays Center,"  Prokhorov said. "Brett had always made it clear to me that when the arena and team sold, he would move on and begin his next journey. Thank you to Brett, who has been a true partner and friend over the past 15 years.”

Prokhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment will retain ownership of Nassau Coliseum.

In February, Forbes ranked the Nets as the sixth most valuable team in the NBA at $2.4 billion -- and that was before they became the talk of the NBA this summer by signing prized free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Last season, the team went 42-40 and reached the playoffs for the first time in four years.