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Is Joe Tsai going to join team bidding for NFL’s Panthers?

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CNBC

Joe Tsai is about to close on a 49.5 percent stake in the Nets and already owns the San Diego franchise in the national professional lacrosse league. Now, according to Page Six of the New York Post, he’s about to join the team bidding for the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, but he hasn’t commented on it and ESPN makes no mention of Tsai in its report on the bidding.

Tsai, co-founder of Alibaba, the Chinese-based e-commerce giant, has seen his estimated net worth nearly double in the last year, giving him about $11 billion in assets minus liabilities. The Nets deal, agreed in principle four months ago, would cost him $1.13 billion, according to the latest reports.

Emily Smith of Page Six reports Tsai will join with Michael Rubin, another Internet billionaire (Fanatics), and others to bid for the Panthers who’ve been on the market since December when their owner, Jerry Richardson, was accused of workplace harassment.

Rubin — a close friend of Patriots owner Bob Kraftand many pro-athletes — is set to submit a bid for the Panthers, we’re told, and Tsai is on board to join an impressive ownership consortium, which they hope could yet include sports figures such as Steph Curry and music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.

Smith did not report what stake Tsai would want in the Panthers or how much he’d be willing to invest. However, quoting a source knowledgeable about the deal as saying, “Under the bid, Rubin, would be the majority owner, with Tsai just behind.”

Darren Rovell of ESPN also reported Rubin’s interest but made no mention of any role for Tsai. Also, the Post didn’t discuss NFL rules requiring divestiture of ownership in other professional sports teams nor did it have any comment from Tsai.

The Taiwanese-Canadian businessman is still active in both Alibaba as executive vice chairman and in Blue Pool Capital, a private investment vehicle he and Alibaba chairman Jack Ma use to fund start-ups.

A former Yale lacrosse player, Tsai purchased the rights to a National Lacrosse League expansion franchise in San Diego in August 2017, two months before he agreed to buy a minority stake in the Nets which will turn into a controlling stake in 2022. Tsai and his family attended last week’s Nets-Warriors game last week and spoke afterward with Kenny Atkinson and several of the players, including Jeremy Lin.

Once the Nets deal is closed, he will have to undergo vetting by the NBA before he can officially join the team as a minority owner.