Gulf states eye the NBA

Soccer is not the only sport attracting interest from Gulf states, with the National Basketball Association (NBA) recently receiving attention from the Qatari Investment Authority, amongst other investors. The NBA’s Board of Governors changed their team ownership laws last year to allow sovereign wealth funds to buy up 20% of teams.


In the weeks since the change became official, Bloomberg reported that investors at the QIA and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company have expressed interest in NBA ownership, including possibly purchasing a partial stake in the New York Knicks, one of the league’s most iconic franchises.

James Dolan—the team’s controversial owner—is open to selling a minority stake, according to MSG President David Hopkinson. Additionally, the Knicks’ largest minority owner is Silver Lake Management, which has close financial ties to the Mubadala fund, including co-ownership of the Manchester City club in the Premier League.


This would not be the first instance of foreign investment in the NBA. Indian entrepreneur Vivek Ranadive became the first person born outside North America to own a majority stake in an NBA team when he bought the Sacramento Kings in 2013.

More recently, Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai made waves when he purchased the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 for $2.35 billion. Tsai has invested heavily in the Nets, but he has also faced controversy due to his ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), especially after he referred to the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong as a “separatist movement.”


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Correction (Feb 21, 2023): This article initially misstated the speaker on the MSG Sports earnings call who indicated that James Dolan was open to selling a minority stake in the New York Knicks. It was MSG Sports president David Hopkinson who said Dolan was open to selling a stake in the team, not Dolan himself.

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