It's no secret that Glen Taylor has thought about selling his stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves for years, but he's never pulled the trigger on a deal. This month, though, he came a bit closer, selling off about 15 percent of the team.
In a pair of deals, Taylor sold 9.5 percent of the Timberwolves to New Jersey real estate mogul Meyer Orbach and 5 percent to Shanghai investor and sports marketer Lizhang Jiang.
He has no plans to give up majority control — a change from earlier this year, when a planned long-term deal with Memphis Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan fell though— but the recent moves reduced Taylor’s stake in the team from around 87 percent to around 70 percent.
Taylor said none of his existing minority owners are interested in becoming the controlling owner. I asked Taylor if either of the two new investors could be controlling owners some day.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Taylor said. “That wasn’t one of the things that was negotiated or talked about in bringing in these two young men. I don’t know what they’re going to do in the future. I don’t know their other businesses, how much money they might make and what their potential might be. While there’s no path for that, there’s certainly no roadblocks either.”
Orbach didn’t rule out the possibility of buying more of the team. His company, The Orbach Group, as of 2014, owned 5,500 apartment units on the East Coast, many of them high-price Manhattan properties, according to industry journal Real Estate Weekly.
“We are going to take it step by step and obviously, in the long run, we’d love to participate more if that opportunity presents itself,” Orbach said of buying a larger stake. “For right now, I still have my day job back home. I thought we would come in, see how it develops and play it by ear.”
In bringing on Jiang as a minority owner, Taylor may be able to tap the Chinese market for sales and partnerships. Jiang, who founded sports-marketing firm Double-Edge Sports and also owns the Spanish soccer team Granada CF, is the first minority owner in the NBA who is a Chinese citizen.
“The global sports industry is now entering a new development phase. It needs to go global and more international,” Jiang said in an interview through a translator. “We can help the Timberwolves and even the NBA league furthermore to march into a new dimension.”
Reported by: Bizjournals.com