Injured Chinese NBA all-star Yao Ming is assured of becoming the new boss of his home Chinese Basketball Association team after all shareholders agreed to sell their stakes to him, according to an agreement reached Wednesday.
In arguably the highest profile deal in CBA history, a team representing the Rockets center signed with the Shanghai Sharks club in the city late yesterday, paving the way for Yao to fully acquire the team he represented for five years before moving to the NBA in 2002.
Yao, who is in the US nursing his injured left foot, said his affection for his home team and city is behind the agreement and that he felt grateful to have an opportunity to give back.
As reported by sina.com, Yao said he is willing to "pay back his home team and Shanghai where he started his basketball career" and is expected to "help Shanghai return to glory".
According to the statement, all three current shareholders agreed to sell their shares to Yao, giving the 2.26m center sole ownership rights.
Although the agreement still has to be approved by the CBA, the purchase is expected to be completed within two months.
"The signing of the agreement means the transfer of the shares has officially started and will process into audit and evaluation," said Zhang Zhengming, general manager of the club.
"We will try to reach the requirement of the CBA in two months' time."
Founded in 1996, the Sharks claimed the CBA championship in the 2001-02 season with the help of Yao.
After that triumph, he left for the NBA and Shanghai has since failed to produce another title, finishing second last in the 2008-09 regular season.
This prompted sponsor Xiyang Group to cease its association in January.
The club will hand over a share transfer report to the CBA at the end of the month.
Although no figures have been released, it has been reported the purchase will cost Yao 20 million yuan ($2.9 million).