HONG KONG: Mainland-born businessman Albert Hung is about to become the second-largest shareholder of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, a Michigan investment firm confirmed yesterday.
Hung's planned purchase of a 15 percent stake would give him a slice second only to Dan Gilbert, said David Katzman, the Cavaliers vice-chairman.
Katzman said Hung's buy-in will be an all-cash affair. It is likely to be approved by the end of the year. Details of the deal have not been disclosed.
The announcement that Hung will become a major new investor in the NBA followed speculation earlier this year that another mainland-born financier, Kenny Huang, wanted a piece of the team.
The NBA has been growing quickly in popularity in China.
Teams, including the Houston Rockets and New Jersey Nets, have major Chinese stars and other big-name NBA players, including Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who have been frequent visitors to China.
The NBA has held its pre-season games in the last two years - in Beijing and Guangzhou - to further popularize what is already its largest overseas market.
The NBA had 51 broadcast partners in China during the 2007-08 season.
Among the 16 NBA marketing partners during the 2008-09 season, six were from China. Three Chinese companies were among the NBA's promotional partners.
Albert Hung keeps a low profile but has a lot of influence.
Born in Fujian province in 1948, he moved to Hong Kong with his mother at age 11.
He started out poor but became powerful in political, economic and social circles after building a fortune in the real estate, finance, hospitality, hi-tech, and new energy sectors.
Hung is a well known philanthropist and has donated more than 100 million yuan ($14.7 million) to charities.
There have recently been several Chinese takeovers of major overseas sports teams. The world's biggest soccer club, Manchester United, reportedly came close to being a takeover target but an offer from a group of Chinese entrepreneurs was rejected by the Glazer family that owns the club.
Tang Yue in Beijing contributed to this story