NBA Africa Valued at $1 Billion With Watsa, Mutombo Backing

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 11: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 11, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

The National Basketball Association Inc. is expanding in Africa through a deal that values its operations on the continent at $1 billion.

By Loni Prinsloo

Word Count: 266
(Bloomberg) — 

Private equity firm Helios Fairfax Partners Corp. invested in the new African entity alongside Tunde Folawiyo, chairman of Yinka Folawiyo Group, the NBA said in a statement on Monday. Former NBA players Dikembe Mutombo, Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng, Grant Hill and Joakim Noah also invested. Altogether, the investors have acquired an 8% stake, a person familiar with the deal said, asking not to be identified because the details are private.

The NBA will spend the cash building infrastructure such as offices, courts and stadiums and work to boost local interaction with fans and talented players, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on a call. The NBA may ultimately play some regular-season games in Africa, he said. The Basketball League Africa, the NBA’s first collaboration on a league outside of North America, is currently playing its inaugural season.

“There is enormous optimism to bring and generate content directly to-and-from the people, and the expectation is that the explosion of smartphones on the continent is a true game changer,” said Silver. The league’s African operations are currently based in Johannesburg, and it has offices in Senegal.

The league drafted nine Nigerian players in 2020, the largest number from Africa to date. The expectation is that even more could come from the continent, with training for young players, referees and coaches.

Helios Fairfax Partners Corp. was created last year through a combination of Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Africa and Helios Investment Partners.

(Updates with investors’ stake sizes in second paragraph)

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options