Alibaba chief close to takeover of Nets, Barclays Center

Joseph Tsai, co-founder of Chinese internet company Alibaba, is reportedly close to a deal to secure full control of NBA basketball franchise the Brooklyn Nets, along with the Barclays Center, in what would represent a record deal for a sports team.

The New York Post newspaper, citing sources, said a deal is expected to be announced this week through which Tsai will acquire the 51% stake in the Nets he doesn’t already own from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

In March, the Post reported that Tsai was in talks to purchase the Nets’ Barclays Center arena and the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, with the deal likely to clear the path for him to become the majority owner of the franchise.

Tsai acquired a 49% stake in the team in April 2018 from Nets owner Prokhorov in a deal that valued the team at $2.35bn (£1.95bn/€2.1bn). That deal granted Tsai an option to buy the remainder of the Nets before 2021-22 and become the controlling owner of the team. The 49% stake was valued at $1bn, with the remaining 51% priced at $1.35bn.

Barclays Center, the Nets’ home since 2012, is owned by Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment and also hosts games played by NHL ice hockey franchise the New York Islanders. The Islanders are currently splitting home games between Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center ahead of a proposed move to a new arena in 2021.

The Post has now stated that Tsai will also be acquiring the Barclays Center as the NBA is keen that its franchise owners own their teams’ arenas.

Completion of the deal would see the Nets takeover eclipse David Tepper’s acquisition of NFL American football team the Carolina Panthers last year, and Tilman Fertitta’s purchase of NBA team the Houston Rockets in 2017, with both agreements having been valued at $2.2bn.

Image: Barclays Center