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Alibaba's co-founder is buying a 49% stake in the Brooklyn Nets: Report

  • Alibaba co-founder Joseph Tsai has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the high minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN.
  • Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will remain the principal owner of the NBA team.
  • The agreement leaves open the possibility for Tsai to acquire controlling interest in the franchise in a few years.
Joseph Tsai
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Joseph Tsai

The co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is set to acquire a 49 percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets, ESPN reported Friday, citing NBA sources.

Joseph Tsai, Alibaba's executive vice chairman, has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the high minority stake, the network reported. The agreement leaves open the possibility of acquiring controlling interest in the NBA franchise in a few years, according to ESPN.

The sources told ESPN that the price of Tsai's stake will be based upon a $2.3 billion valuation of the team.

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov will remain the principal owner of the team for four more years, and will hold on to his responsibilities to oversee business and sports operations, ESPN said.

The report follows multiple years of the team hemorrhaging millions of dollars, according to documents acquired by ESPN.

The Nets lost $144 million in 2013-14, by far the worst in the league that season, ESPN reported, and lost more than $23 million last season.

Tsai, 53, has long been a sports fan and athlete — including as a pick-up basketball player during his undergraduate years at Yale University.

Read more about Tsai's new NBA acquisition in ESPN's report.