Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai buys into NBA franchise Brooklyn Nets

Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai has bought a 49 per cent stake in NBA franchise the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that values them higher than any other team.

The Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire's acquisition from Russian controlling owner Mikhail Prokhorov values the Nets at a record $2.35bn (£1.7bn), according to local reports.

Fellow billionaire Prokohorov will remain the controlling owner of the franchise but the deal gives Tsai, who launched e-commerce giant Alibaba alongisde Jack Ma, the option to take a controlling interest by 2021.

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"Basketball is a global sport and the NBA is one of the most recognised brands in the world," said Tsai.

Tsai (l) launched his career in New York (Source: Getty)

"I'm excited about the NBA's international growth prospects, and hope to play a part in bringing the NBA and the special character of the Brooklyn Nets to fans around the world."

Prokhorov's takeover of the Nets in 2015, which made him the first foreign owner of an NBA franchise, valued the Nets at just $875m.

This year marked the first NBA season in which every franchise was valued over $1bn by financial magazine Forbes, due to the league's strong potential for international growth particularly in China where the game is played by an estimated 300m people.

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