The Tatler Lister's multibillion dollar acquisition would make it the most expensive purchase ever of a sports franchise

Joseph Tsai, Alibaba’s co-founder and executive vice-chairman, will soon be the new owner of the Brooklyn Nets.

A new report by the New York Post on Tuesday found that the Tatler Lister is close to inking a US$2.35 billion deal to buy the remaining 51 percent of the NBA team from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

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Joseph’s multibillion dollar acquisition, which is expected to be announced this week, would make it the most expensive purchase ever of a sports franchise. The previous record was held by American entrepreneur David Tepper, who bought NFL’s Carolina Panthers for US$2.2 billion in 2018, and American businessman Tilman Fertitta, who purchased the NBA’s Houston Rockets for the same amount in 2017.

Last year, Joseph initially bought 49 percent of the basketball team for US$1 billion. In a May 2019 interview with the New York Times, he said, “Under the terms of the transaction, fully public, I have the option to buy the remaining 51 percent by early 2021. I have that right, and that’s basically it. That’s what I want to say.”

The Chinese billionaire’s takeover comes at an auspicious time. The once-struggling team has recently signed on NBA All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, two of the league’s top three free agents. According to the New York Post, the Brooklyn team is projected to have up to a 15 percent revenue increase in the upcoming season.

Because the NBA encourages owners to purchase their own arenas, sources told The Post that’s one of the reasons why Joseph is in talks of acquiring the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. 

He’s also a member of the board of directors of NBA China, helping the league expand its influence in the region. 

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