The co-founder of the largest e-commerce site in China has announced plans to buy a 49 percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets.
Worth a total of $2.3 billion, the deal leaves Tsai with the option to buy the rest of the shares from Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire who owns the rest of the team, by 2021.
Tsai, 53, is a sports fan and former Yale University basketball player.
While Prokhorov, who has held a majority stake in the Nets since 2010, will retain the right to make team and business decisions, sources told ESPN that the deal was done with the expectation that Tsai would eventually replace the Russian billionaire as the primary owner through a majority stake.
Despite efforts to bring in profits through low payrolls and increased ticket sales, the Nets have been consistently losing money for the NBA since they moved to Brooklyn from New Jersey in 2012. In 2016, they lost more money than every other team except the Detroit Pistons, coming in at a $44.3 million loss.
Tsai, who has formally expressed his support for the team’s new general manager, Sean Marks, and coach Kenny Atkinson, reportedly plans to help with efforts to turn the team around.