Joseph Tsai, the Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire businessman who co-founded Alibaba Group, will become the full owner of the suddenly surging NBA basketball team, the Brooklyn Nets.
Tsai, who owns 49 percent of the Nets, will soon sign a deal to buy the remaining 51 percent of the team now owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, for $2.35 billion. The deal will be announced this week, according to The New York Post.
The $2.35 billion deal will be the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise in U.S. history.
Tsai, whose net worth is estimated at $9.9 billion, bought his 49 percent stake in the team for $1 billion in 2018. While doing so, he also locked-in the right to buy the remaining 51 percent of the team before the 2021-2022 basketball season for an additional $1.35 billion. He announced his intent to buy the entire Brooklyn Nets in October 2017.
A Canadian citizen, Tsai is also in talks to buy the Barclays Center, home stadium of the Nets.
He has a yen for acquiring sports teams. Tsai is also the owner of the San Diego Seals, a box lacrosse franchise with the National Lacrosse League.
In March 2018, Tsai was among a group of investors that bought the NFL team, the Carolina Panthers. In January 2019, Tsai headed a group that bought the WNBA's New York Liberty from The Madison Square Garden Company.
In February, Tsai and his partners, The Chernin Group and The Raine Group, invested in the Premier Lacrosse League, a new lacrosse league founded by lacrosse player Paul Rabil and his brother Mike Rabil.
Tsai is also a member of NBA China, which conducts league business in China. It is likely an all-Chinese team will compete in the NBA by the next decade.
Tsai's acquisition of the Nets precedes the upcoming 2019-2020 NBA season starting in October where the Nets are now a force to be reckoned with in the NBA's Eastern Conference. The addition of superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will give the Nets the bona fides to challenge current Eastern Conference champion and NBA 2018-2019 season champion, the Toronto Raptors, for leadership.
The Nets signed Durant for $164 million despite the superstar forward's Achilles tendon injury that might keep him sidelined for a year.
The sudden turnaround for the Nets is stunning, given the team was ranked among the worst in the NBA two years ago. The addition of Durant and Irving is expected to see the Nets' revenue rise by at least 15 percent in the upcoming season despite Durant's questionable playing time.