Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Russian billionaire sells 49% Brooklyn Nets stake

THINKING AHEAD:The deal gives Alibaba’s Joe Tsai the option to acquire additional shares in 2021 if he wants to become the controlling owner

Reuters, MOSCOW

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has sold a 49 percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets basketball team to Joe Tsai (蔡崇信), the executive vice chairman and cofounder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), the NBA team said in a statement.

Prokhorov would continue to be the team’s controlling owner through Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding, and the sale would not affect its day-to-day management or basketball operations, the statement added.

The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, gives Tsai the option to acquire additional shares in 2021, which would make him the controlling owner.

The Barclays Center, the team’s home arena, is not part of the deal and would continue to be wholly owned by Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the statement said.

Sources last year said that Tsai’s deal to purchase the 49 percent stake valued the team at about US$2.3 billion.

The sale comes a week after Washington announced new sanctions against Russian businessmen, companies and government officials in response to what US officials described as the Kremlin’s “malign activities” around the world.

Prokhorov’s Onexim Group has not replied to a request for comment about the timing of the deal.

Prokhorov, who was not targeted in the latest US sanctions, sold a 6 percent stake in Russian aluminum giant Rusal to billionaire Viktor Vekselberg and his partners earlier this year. Both Rusal and Vekselberg were added to the sanctions list last week.

Prokhorov has been gradually reducing his presence in the Russian business sphere since law enforcement officials searched his Onexim Group offices two years ago, saying the searches were tied to a tax investigation at an unspecified firm or group.

At the time, two sources said they believed the searches were linked to Prokhorov’s RBC media holding, which had published revelations about people with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has denied this link.

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