CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Michigan investment firm has finalized a deal to sell its 15 percent stake in the Cleveland Cavaliers to Albert Hung, bringing LeBron James' team a step closer to adding the National Basketball Association's first big Chinese investor.
A Cavaliers spokesman declined to comment, but Cavaliers vice chairman David Katzman, whose Camelot Venture Group owns the stake being sold, said an all-cash deal was reached and should be approved by year end. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
It would make Hung the second largest shareholder in the team after owner Dan Gilbert, Katzman said. NBA owners are expected to vote on the deal in the next five to six weeks, an NBA spokesman said.
Reports first surfaced in May that a Chinese investor was buying a 15 percent stake in the Cavaliers, although those reports identified Chinese-born American financier Kenny Huang. Katzman said that deal fell through and Hung's group was the third Chinese group with which he had negotiated.
Forbes magazine ranked the Cavaliers last week as the No. 5 most valuable NBA team at $476 million. Gilbert and Katzman's group doubled team revenue in the first four years after buying it in 2005, bringing the Cavaliers into the top five in revenue in the NBA, Katzman said.
Katzman told CNBC, which first reported the deal was finalized, that Hung has many connections in China and sponsorships of the team by Chinese companies are expected to rise.
It would mark the second major deal with an overseas investor involving an NBA team. In September, Russia's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, reached a deal to buy control of the NBA's New Jersey Nets.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; editing by Andre Grenon)