Half-ownership of Brooklyn Nets sold for $2.3 billion

New York • Billionaire Joseph Tsai has agreed to purchase a 49 percent stake of the Brooklyn Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov, with the option to become controlling owner in four years, a person with knowledge of the details said Friday.

The franchise is being valued at $2.3 billion under terms of the agreement, the person told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there were no public comments about the sale, which must be approved by the NBA's Board of Governors.

Tsai is the co-founder and executive vice president of the Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce company. Born in Taiwan, he is a graduate of Yale. He also owns the San Diego entry in the National Lacrosse League.

He's the latest to pay a huge price for an NBA team. Tilman Fertitta paid a record $2.2 billion last month to purchase the Houston Rockets, surpassing the $2 billion that Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers.

The deal was first reported by ESPN.

Prokhorov bought the team in 2010 and oversaw its move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. The Russian billionaire has been an infrequent spectator in recent years as the Nets tumbled from playoff team to worst record in the league, and he has for a while been open to selling a minority share.

Instead, he will eventually become the minority owner, retaining 20 percent of the franchise after Tsai takes control in 2021.

The deal is for the franchise only and not Barclays Center, the $1 billion arena that opened in 2012. Prokhorov remains the owner of that.