MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has sold a 49 per cent stake in the Brooklyn Nets basketball team to Joe Tsai, the executive vice-chairman and co-founder of the Alibaba Group, the National Basketball Association (NBA) team said in a statement.
Prokhorov will continue to be the team's controlling owner through Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding, and the sale will not affect its day-to-day management or basketball operations, the statement added.
The deal, whose terms were not disclosed, gives Tsai the option to acquire additional shares in 2021, which would make him the controlling owner.
The Barclays Centre, the team's home arena, is not part of the deal and will continue to be wholly owned by Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the statement said.
Sources told Reuters last year that Tsai's deal to purchase the 49 per cent stake valued the team at around US$2.3 billion (S$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 per cent stake in Russian aluminium 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 offices of his Onexim Group two years ago, saying the searches were tied to a tax investigation at an unspecified firm or group.
At the time, two sources told Reuters they believed the searches were linked to Prokhorov's RBC media holdings, which had published revelations about people with ties to President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has denied this link.