Chinese investors close to purchasing share of Cleveland Cavaliers- edit: Done deal...

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Chinese investors close to purchasing share of Cleveland Cavaliers
by Brian Windhorst/Plain Dealer Reporter
Saturday May 23, 2009, 11:31 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Cavaliers already have a global star. A clutch-shooting global star at that. Soon they may have a global partner that could help secure that global star's future in Cleveland.

According to multiple sources within the Cavs, franchise majority owner Dan Gilbert hasa tentative agreement in place to allow a group of Chinese investors to purchase a significant stake in the Cavaliers Operating Company, the entity that owns the Cavs and operates Quicken Loans Arena. The group is led by JianHua (Kenny) Huang, a Chinese businessman who has become successful by linking American and Chinese companies.

Huang and several of his partners were in Cleveland and attended Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals this week. He sat in Gilbert's courtside box Friday night and watched LeBron James hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to even the series with the Orlando Magic at one game apiece.

"Dan Gilbert has been approached multiple times over the past few years by investors that wanted to join the Cavs' ownership group," said Len Komoroski, Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena president said in a statement.

"This has recently happened again. As has been done previously, we're in the process of reviewing the possibility presented to us. Beyond that, we do not feel it would be appropriate to give further comment at this time."

Calls to Huang's company were not returned.

The direct impact of the move is securing the future of the franchise, which has been in a minority ownership flux for the last couple years as it loses millions in attempting to build a championship-quality team around James. It will not only mean an injection of capital but will open the Cavs to business in China. The move, which has been kept mostly secret in America, is being supported by the NBA as they have encouraged development in China.

The other effect, which is surely the more interesting side to Cavs fans, is how vital this new link could be for James -- providing a huge tie-in with an economy James is eager to tap.


Any team ownership transfer of more than five percent must be voted on by the NBA's Board of Governors following background and financial checks. If the deal comes to fruition and is approved by team owners, it could help to remarkably strengthen James' relationship with the Chinese fans and consumers that he's been working to reach for the last four years.

Huang, who has been working with the Cavs for the last two years in securing Chinese sponsorship through one of this companies, would represent a direct link between hundreds of millions of Chinese basketball fans and James. If the deal comes off, Chinese fans could start to feel a connection to James and it could expand his business interests by remaining with the Cavs past next season when his contract with the team expires.

In other words, there is great potential in being with a franchise that has a deep relationship to China -- likely even more so than just playing in the largest market in America. There has been intense speculation that James will be attracted to playing in New York because of the business opportunities.

"You have to think globally," James said recently of his business interests. "I have a lot of fans in China and they're important to me."

James and Nike, by far his largest sponsor, have been on a mission to create a bond with the Chinese over the last three years in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. James has made four visits to China, one with the Cavs as part of a preseason trip in 2007.

With basketball exploding in popularity among millions of young Chinese with exponentially growing buying power, James has targeted opportunities in the Far East to make the same kind of marketing impact in modern China that Michael Jordan had in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. Only the market there operates on a dramatically larger scale.

Becoming the Jordan of China from a marketing standpoint would allow James to reach his goal of someday becoming the first billionaire athlete.

Over the last few years James has been lagging behind more established stars like Kobe Bryant and even Tracy McGrady, a teammate of China's national hero Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, in Chinese popularity.

But his Most Valuable Player Award -- an honor that brought Bryant to the top of the list in Chinese jersey sales within the last year -- has gotten James huge attention. With increased interest with this deal, James could be in position to surge ahead.

Huang has a chance to play a large role in it and profit as well, which is seemingly why he's focused on getting a piece of James and the Cavs now. Huang is part of at least two groups that specialize and creating partnerships between American and Chinese companies.

As a partner in Sportscorp China, which has a U.S. base in Chicago with well-known sports consultant Marc Ganis, Haung became a leading dealmaker with pro sports teams. He's worked deals with the New York Yankees, the Houston Rockets and USA Basketball by creating deals with Chinese sponsors.

Fans watching Cavs games this season may have noticed Chinese characters on scorer's table advertisements during some games. Those were there specifically for the Chinese market in games that were being broadcast in China to millions and millions of viewers. Huang helped set those deals up.

In Chinese business culture, sponsor relationships will often open the door to other business opportunities. Huang -- who is a native of Guangzhou, China, and holds degrees from Columbia University, St. John's University and New York University -- has been able to extend sponsor deals investments. According to the Sports Business Journal, Huang and Ganis' Sportscorp has set up at least six American pro sports team owners with lucrative Chinese initial public stock offerings.

For example, he helped Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander invest $30 million in a Chinese athletic apparel company several years ago. The investment jumped 42 percent within days of the stock's release.

Huang is also has been a director of the Aspen Infrastructure Investment Corporation, a U.S.-based group that Huang has led into investments in expansion of Chinese roads and utilities. It is following the same path of linking money on both sides of the Pacific into growth areas -- be it the Cavs, the Yankees or various budding Chinese corporate giants.

Gilbert has been approached by foreign investors several times over the last few years. In several interviews last year, NBA Commissioner David Stern predicted there would be ownership by an international group in the near future. The global economic slowdown has affected those projections.

Despite being the Cavs' majority owner, Gilbert's ownership team is perhaps not what he thought it would be when he purchased the club, its debt and the rights to run The Q for $375 million in 2005. At the time, former majority owner Gordon Gund and Gilbert's cousin and longtime business parnter David Katzman were believed to have taken a combined ownership stake of more than 30 percent. Gilbert also had a deal to sell a piece of the team to music star and actor Usher Raymond IV.

But over the last several years things have changed. Gund has begun to pull back on his desire to remain a part owner and focus on his foundation, the Foundation Fighting Blindness. He's already reduced his stake in the team from the initial investment.

Usher remains a part owner, but did not invest the amount he and Gilbert agreed to at the beginning and has taken a low profile after being on the dais with Gilbert, Katzman and Gund on March 1, 2005, the day the ownership transfer took place.

Over the last two years, Katzman and Gilbert have seen some of their business interests go in different directions. Katzman was previously listed in the team media guide as vice chairman, but he was removed last year. Katzman has come to only a few games all season.

In an interview with The Plain Dealer in March, Gilbert said Katzman's role was "the same" and he isn't "as visible because he was involved in some other ventures."

Over the last four years, the Cavs have spent around $20 million in upgrades to The Q, invested $25 million in a practice facility in Independence and spent wildly on players. The Cavs have paid the luxury tax in each of the last two seasons and this year will commit to more than $100 million in payroll and taxes.

Even with record-shattering revenue -- including one of the most rewarding local television deals in the NBA despite being in the 17th-largest market -- the Cavs are still believed to be losing millions. Their current owners are also heavily invested in industries that have suffered losses over the last two years.

The Cavs ownership group currently consists of three faces. Coach Mike Brown now routinely refers to the team's "three owners" which include Gilbert, Jeff Cohen and Nate Forbes. Cohen is a wealthy builder of homes and commercial properties in Michigan and Florida. Forbes is a Detroit-based mall developer. Gilbert made his fortune mostly in mortgages.

There are other partners, but those three sit together at nearly every Cavs game and are close to players and coaches.

On Friday before Game 2, Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry, Cohen and Forbes spent time showing Huang, Ganis and some other investors around The Q. Soon they could be regulars.


Getting a dose of needed capital by selling part of the Cavs to Chinese investors?

Choosing Chinese investors with sports marketing experience to pitch the team in China?

Addressing what sound like some rather substantial profitability issues?

Securing LeBron in part by offering new marketing avenues to China?

Wow.

WOW.

Could play a big role in 2010 business...

Congrats to Windhorst for breaking a huge story.
 
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i don't know.

i'm a Knicks fan, but the Cavs are doing whatever they can in their power to keep him there. that in itself may go a long way for Bron.

that commitment to excellence, which is something the Knicks don't have going for them right now.

yeah he may get his money in NY, but why go to a team that's coached by a man that hasn't been able to take his style to the finals. Say what you wantto say about the suspensions & such, in the end of the day he's a proven regular season winner.

+ add to the fact that we have no talent on that team means that i'm not really banking on Bron coming to NY in 10.
 
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Originally Posted by The Wizard

i don't know.

i'm a Knicks fan, but the Cavs are doing whatever they can in their power to keep him there. that in itself may go a long way for Bron.

that commitment to excellence, which is something the Knicks don't have going for them right now.

yeah he may get his money in NY, but why go to a team that's coached by a man that hasn't been able to take his style to the finals. Say what you want to say about the suspensions & such, in the end of the day he's a proven regular season winner.

+ add to the fact that we have no talent on that team means that i'm not really banking on Bron coming to NY in 10.
Fam, thank you for bringing something constructive to the table.


I wish more people gave though out responses, even if they are opposite of how I or Cavs fans feel.
 
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Originally Posted by ericberry14

Originally Posted by jville819

There all gonna go broke once Bron leaves


Bron to NY in '10

OP is going to kill himself as soon as LeCrab signs the dotted line


on the other hand what if this "Chinese investor" has mob ties???

Dan Gilbert getting the Chinese Mafia involved to make sure Lebron never leaves Cleveland.
 
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As a partner in Sportscorp China, which has a U.S. base in Chicago with well-known sports consultant Marc Ganis, Haung became a leading dealmaker with pro sports teams. He's worked deals with the New York Yankees, the Houston Rockets and USA Basketball by creating deals with Chinese sponsors.

Fans watching Cavs games this season may have noticed Chinese characters on scorer's table advertisements during some games. Those were there specifically for the Chinese market in games that were being broadcast in China to millions and millions of viewers. Huang helped set those deals up.

...

According to the Sports Business Journal, Huang and Ganis' Sportscorp has set up at least six American pro sports team owners with lucrative Chinese initial public stock offerings.

For example, he helped Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander invest $30 million in a Chinese athletic apparel company several years ago. The investment jumped 42 percent within days of the stock's release.

Huang is also has been a director of the Aspen Infrastructure Investment Corporation, a U.S.-based group that Huang has led into investments in expansion of Chinese roads and utilities. It is following the same path of linking money on both sides of the Pacific into growth areas -- be it the Cavs, the Yankees or various budding Chinese corporate giants.
 
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What Windhorst reported as a possibility is now a reality, according to the Associated Press.

And they've invested before LeBron has signed...


Quote:
[table][tr][td]
Chinese investors to buy into Cavs
The popularity of the NBA in China has soared on the back of Yao Ming in the Houston Rockets center's seven years in the league.
A Chinese investment group appears to be banking on LeBron James as it looks to return the favor
. According to The Associated Press, the conglomerate has signed an agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers to become minority owners of the NBA franchise and its arena. The consortium led by JianHua (Kenny) Huang, a Chinese businessman who has brokered sponsorship deals with the New York Yankees and other sports franchises in the U.S., is
poised to acquire up to 15 percent
of the Cavaliers' ownership group. Team president Len Komoroski said Sunday the group approached Cavs principal owner Dan Gilbert about the partnership and called the business venture "an exciting new opportunity."
The deal, completed in recent days, must be approved by the league.
"Dan Gilbert has been approached multiple times over the past few years by investors that wanted to join the Cavs' ownership group," Komoroski said earlier in a statement, according to a report in the The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, which first reported the pending deal. "This has recently happened again. As has been done previously, we're in the process of reviewing the possibility presented to us." James, in his sixth season with the Cavs, has one year remaining before he could become a free agent. A stake by Huang's group could go far in securing the financial stability of the Cavaliers' organization -- in turn giving the Cavs needed bargaining room as they seek to re-sign James. The group's appeal also extends to its ability to better tap into a coveted Chinese marketplace. With Gilbert at the helm, the Cavaliers' ownership also includes real estate developer Jeff Cohen and Detroit-based mall developer Nate Forbes. Cavs general manager Danny Ferry hosted Huang and others from his group during a tour of Quicken Loans Arena on Friday before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Cleveland newspaper report said. They were in attendance for Games 1 and 2, The Plain Dealer reported, and Huang was a guest in Gilbert's courtside box for a Game 2 that featured James' buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The 96-95 triumph evened the series with the Orlando Magic at 1-1. [/td] [/tr][/table]
SOURCE


The original AP report:

Cavs sign ownership deal with China group
By TOM WITHERS - 49 minutes ago ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The Cleveland Cavaliers have a signed an agreement with an investment group from China to become minority owners of the NBA franchise and its arena. The move could impact superstar LeBron James' future with the team. The Asian conglomerate, which includes JianHua Huang, a Chinese businessman who has brokered sponsorship deals with the New York Yankees and other sports franchises in the U.S., could acquire up to 15 percent of Cavaliers Operating Company, the entity that owns the team and operates Quicken Loans Arena. The deal, completed in recent days, must be approved by the league. Team president Len Komoroski said Sunday the group approached Cavs principal owner Dan Gilbert about the partnership and called the business venture "an exciting new opportunity."
 
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As we've seen with other Chinese goods lately, they'll use the cheapest materials possible to do the job.

Look for Cleveland to replace their current SF with something cheaper.
 
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Originally Posted by franchise3

Yao to the Cavs in '10
as a backup?

unless jvg is the cavs coach in 2010, aint happening.
but lebron would probably be the most famous and popular nba player in china if he teamed with yao
 
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Yao's a loyal dude, so I doubt he leaves/gets traded.

But he does have the option to opt out after next year...
 
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There IS Cavs Season Thread.

You also made your OWN SEPARATE THREAD FOR ALL THINGS CAVS AND LEBRON.

seriously, stop cluttering the sports forum.
 
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Originally Posted by Its That Dude

There IS Cavs Season Thread.

You also made your OWN SEPARATE THREAD FOR ALL THINGS CAVS AND LEBRON.

seriously, stop cluttering the sports forum.

relax

I don't creep into other teams threads aside from my own. This is news to me. Thanks OP.
 
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HE SHOULD STAY IN CLEVLAND, WHERE HES LOVE & APPRECATED..

IN N.Y. HE'LL BE NOTHN MORE THAN A HIRED GUN, WHERE ITS WIN OR NOTHNG..

I HOPE LEBRON GETS A FEW CHIPS....

BECAUSE WHEREVER HE PLAYS, THATS WHAT HE'LL BE JUDGED ON...

IF HE ENDS UP LIKE MALONE OR BARKLEY[ which is stll a great career] THE HATE WE SEE FOR

KOBE WONT BE ANYTHING COMPARED TO WHAT WE SEE IF HE DOESNT WIN ONE...
 
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Originally Posted by MJsaver

HE SHOULD STAY IN CLEVLAND, WHERE HES LOVE & APPRECATED..

IN N.Y. HE'LL BE NOTHN MORE THAN A HIRED GUN, WHERE ITS WIN OR NOTHNG..

I HOPE LEBRON GETS A FEW CHIPS....

BECAUSE WHEREVER HE PLAYS, THATS WHAT HE'LL BE JUDGED ON...

IF HE ENDS UP LIKE MALONE OR BARKLEY[ which is stll a great career] THE HATE WE SEE FOR

KOBE WONT BE ANYTHING COMPARED TO WHAT WE SEE IF HE DOESNT WIN ONE...

W O R D ?
 
6,599
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Joined Jan 4, 2009
Originally Posted by CincoSeisDos

Originally Posted by MJsaver

HE SHOULD STAY IN CLEVLAND, WHERE HES LOVE & APPRECATED..

IN N.Y. HE'LL BE NOTHN MORE THAN A HIRED GUN, WHERE ITS WIN OR NOTHNG..

I HOPE LEBRON GETS A FEW CHIPS....

BECAUSE WHEREVER HE PLAYS, THATS WHAT HE'LL BE JUDGED ON...

IF HE ENDS UP LIKE MALONE OR BARKLEY[ which is stll a great career] THE HATE WE SEE FOR

KOBE WONT BE ANYTHING COMPARED TO WHAT WE SEE IF HE DOESNT WIN ONE...

W O R D ?

THATS JUST MY OPNION, BUT I THINK ITS TRUE...

He already has his share of haters, saying what has he done blah blah blah...

Everybody's already giving him CHIPS beforehand, so if he turns out not to

win at least one CHIP...

What will people be saying???

nothing good for sure
 
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Dude, all Chinese people don't just gravitate towards each other, so this doesn't increase the Cavs' chances of someday landing Yao


The Cavs would probably have to get bounced now in order for there to be any chance of Lebron leaving
 
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uhh... what? i'm not seeing the relevance of this, its a reach that this would actually affect the moves made by the Cavs franchise personnel-wise.


all this means is that there will be more fake Lebron jerseys popping up.
 
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i am taking this to mean that some men with money that have proven to be successful in previous sporting endeavors are going to help pump income into anorganization that is losing money.

i want to see their involvement with the Yankees
 
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