Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai reportedly reached an agreement with Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to acquire a 49 percent stake in the NBA organization with an option to become majority owner in four years.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN.com confirmed details of the deal Friday morning, including the fact the purchase price is based on a $2.3 billion franchise valuation. They also noted the "presumption" is Tsai will utilize the option to take over controlling interest.
Tsai was born in Taipei, Taiwan, before attending high school in New Jersey and earning degrees from Yale. He worked alongside Jack Ma to establish the Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce giant, in 1999 and currently serves as the company's executive vice chairman.
Forbes estimates the 53-year-old businessman's net worth at $8.8 billion, ranking him 250th on the financial outlet's list of richest billionaires.
The ESPN.com report states Tsai "expressed enthusiasm" about the organization's outlook and plans to use his "strong Asian business ties" to help the Nets' financial outlook after the team lost nearly $23.5 million in operating income during the 2016-17 season, based on league figures.
Prokhorov, who purchased 80 percent of the franchise in 2010 and the remaining portion in 2015, released a statement last December about his intent to sell a minority stake.
"As I've said, I'm passionate about owning the Nets and our emerging sports and entertainment businesses, and will continue to look at growth opportunities," he said. "My goal in seeking a local minority partner is to further strengthen the team's New York presence in order to expand upon our business and community relationships."
Although Tsai possesses the right to eventually obtain majority interest, the deal doesn't include any current control of basketball or business operations and he doesn't receive the Barclays Center—the Nets' home arena in Brooklyn—from Prokhorov, according to ESPN.com.
The Nets are off to a 3-2 start in the 2017-18 campaign as they try to start climbing the ladder after finishing last season with the league's worst record at 20-62.