NBA forms new basketball business entity in China

The NBA has announced the formation of NBA China, a new entity that will conduct all of the league's businesses in China.

Five strategic partners will invest $253 million to acquire 11 percent of the company. The strategic partners are an elite group that includes ESPN, Bank of China Group Investment, Legend Holdings, Li Ka Shing Foundation and China Merchants Investments.

Tim Chen, the former CEO of Microsoft Greater China, joined the NBA on Oct. 15, 2007, and will lead the new entity as its CEO. NBA China will be governed by a board of directors that will include representatives of the strategic investors as well as Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and NBA executives Adam Silver, deputy commissioner and COO; Heidi Ueberroth, president of global marketing partnerships and international business operations; and Commissioner Stern.

The NBA currently has relationships with 51 Chinese broadcasters, including a partnership of more than 20 years with national broadcaster CCTV. The league has also organized hundreds of touring basketball events for fans and currently maintains 16 marketing partnerships with a combination of Chinese-based corporations and U.S.-based multinationals.

The NBA opened its Hong Kong office in 1992 and currently employs 100 people in four offices in greater China. The NBA became the first American sports league to stage games in China in 2004 with the NBA China Games 2004 in Beijing and Shanghai. The league returned last season for NBA China Games 2007, with three preseason games played in Shanghai and Macao.