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Levy named as Barclays Center CEO as Tsai seals takeover

Sports-media industry veteran David Levy has been named as the new chief executive of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center after Joseph Tsai, co-founder of Chinese internet company Alibaba, completed the acquisition of full ownership of the NBA basketball team and its home arena.

Tsai becomes NBA governor of the Nets and its affiliates and will also serve as chairman of the 19,000-seat arena. Completion of the takeover comes after Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov last month entered into a definitive agreement to sell full ownership of Barclays Center and his 51-per-cent controlling interest in the Nets.

Tsai purchased 49 per cent of the Nets in April 2018 from Prokhorov in a deal that at the time valued the franchise at $2.35bn (£1.88bn/€2.13bn). That deal granted Tsai an option to buy the remainder of the team before 2021-22.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed but Tsai is widely reported to have paid nearly $3.5bn for the two properties, which become the latest assets to form part of J Tsai Sports, the sports investment and holding vehicle controlled by Tsai. The company also holds WNBA basketball team the New York Liberty and San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League, and has investments in Premier Lacrosse League and Los Angeles FC.

Levy, meanwhile, will also serve as president of J Tsai Sports and will join Tsai’s family office as a venture partner, covering sports, media and entertainment investments on a global level.

As chief executive of the Nets and Barclays Center, Levy will oversee all business, revenue, strategy and operations for the team and arena.

Levy spent 32 years at Turner Broadcasting, most recently spending six years as president of the company, overseeing brands and businesses including TNT, TBS, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and truTV. Levy helped broker media-rights deals between Turner and the likes of the NBA, Major League Baseball, PGA of America and UEFA.

Tsai said: “David brings a unique combination of sports and media know-how, strategic thinking and operating skills to our sports and entertainment business. He is an entrepreneur at heart with the experience of managing and scaling organisations, and I really look forward to working with him.”

Levy added: “I am excited and honoured to join the Nets organisation and look forward to working alongside Joe and the talented forward-thinking executives and team members across the entire organisation.

“Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have done a terrific job instilling a winning culture and I am looking forward to supporting them as we build a sustainable foundation of success on and off the court. I am excited for our fans and can’t wait to get started.”

Image: Barclays Center