Billionaires: Mark Cuban set to pocket $700m for Mavericks sale

In our fortnightly round-up of the world’s super-wealthy, Jack Ma sets up a new company and Jeff Bezos plans a move to Miami's 'Billionaire Bunker' neighbourhood

Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 for $285 million. Getty Images
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Mark Cuban

Shark Tank star and billionaire Mark Cuban has long had a knack for selling at the top.

Take the radio-streaming website he founded, He sold it to Yahoo! for $4.7 billion in 1999, less than a year before the dot-com bubble burst.

Then there was his sale of a stake in a Canadian internet company before the announcement of a dilutive equity deal – so well-timed, he spent years fending off insider trading charges.

Now, the 65-year-old entrepreneur is selling a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks, his most valuable investment and one that’s brought him a nationwide celebrity, alongside his role on the Shark Tank television show.

Mr Cuban bought the Mavericks for $285 million in 2000, meaning the reported $3.5 billion value would represent a return of more than 1,100 per cent.

It also represents a significant premium to the $2.77 billion Mavericks valuation set by sports media firm Sportico in December.

That’s the valuation used by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to calculate Mr Cuban’s $6.4 billion fortune, meaning his net worth would increase more than $700 million if the deal closes at the reported price, although taxes are likely to dent some gains.

The purchase by Miriam Adelson, the widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and her family came out of a desire by the Adelson-owned Las Vegas Sands Corporation to build a casino and arena complex in Dallas, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.

Whether this goes down as another well-timed exit by Mr Cuban remains to be seen. Sports team values have reached stratospheric heights, driven by lucrative media deals as well as ultra-wealthy investors chasing a limited inventory of franchises.

Mr Cuban has been a prolific start-up investor outside of the Mavericks and has made more than 500 investments, according to Pitchbook data, as well as founding other companies including AXS TV and Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs.

Jack Ma

Chinese billionaire Jack Ma sparked speculation about his next endeavours after he seeded a small company to process and sell farming produce, in his latest venture since retreating from the spotlight at the height of a government-led industry crackdown.

The co-founder of Alibaba Group set up Hangzhou Ma’s Kitchen Food last week with an initial registered capital of 10 million yuan ($1.4 million), according to corporate database Tianyancha.

The business involves the sale of packaged agricultural products, according to information on China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System.

Mr Ma’s whereabouts and activities have been the topic of intense discussion since 2020, when he stepped away from the limelight after Beijing clamped down on his twin companies – Alibaba and Ant Group – as part of a broader campaign to contain an increasingly powerful private sector.

Mr Ma has since largely devoted his time to agricultural pursuits through his foundation.

Few other details have emerged about his latest venture. Senior officials of his foundation hold top posts at the newly created firm, according to the South China Morning Post.

Jeff Bezos is looking for office space in Miami as founder Jeff Bezos plans his move from the Seattle area.

The company is seeking roughly 50,000 square feet of office space, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Amazon official confirmed that the e-commerce giant is looking for space and said it started the search before Mr Bezos’s announcement that he was relocating to Florida.

As Miami has increasingly become a destination for the ultra-wealthy and their companies, demand for offices has boomed.

A slew of financial and technology firms have moved to the area or expanded existing offices, including Ken Griffin’s Citadel, Microsoft and private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

Office availability is now below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to third-quarter data from stock brokers the CBRE Group.

The “unprecedented” demand means there will likely be little top-quality office space in the city lingering on the market, CBRE said. It’s also led landlords to raise rents.

Mr Bezos, who stepped down as chief executive in 2021 to become Amazon’s executive chairman, recently bought two homes in Indian Creek, a man-made barrier island in the larger Miami area known as the “Billionaire Bunker”.

He paid $79 million for a seven-bedroom mansion after purchasing the neighbouring property for $68 million.

Amazon currently has more than 400 employees in the Miami region but, so far, the company has not signed any direct leases for space, the official said.

Antoine Arnault

Antoine Arnault is stepping down as chief executive of Berluti, the shoemaker that’s part of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, amid an executive reshuffle that’s set to trigger questions over succession at the world’s biggest luxury group.

The eldest son of billionaire Bernard Arnault will stay on as chairman of the Parisian brand but will be succeeded as chief executive by Jean-Marc Mansvelt, who’s transferring from LVMH jewellery brand Chaumet, the company said. The changes are effective from January 1.

The announcement will likely renew speculation over succession at the luxury company, which is currently headed by 74-year-old Bernard Arnault, the world’s second-wealthiest person according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Antoine Arnault, who’s been chief executive of Berluti since 2011, will also keep his role as chairman at cashmere specialist Loro Piana, as well as oversight responsibilities for image and environment at LVMH.

The 46-year-old is also vice chairman and chief executive of Christian Dior, the holding company through which the Arnault family controls LVMH.

Despite the recent manoeuvring, there’s no indication that Bernard Arnault is going anywhere soon. LVMH last year lifted the age limit for its chief executive, a move that will allow the family patriarch to stay at the helm until he’s 80.

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LVMH owns 75 brands but Berluti isn’t in the top 10, according to estimates by HSBC. LVMH doesn’t break down revenue by label. Berluti sales are on track to come in at about €300 million ($327 million) this year. LVMH declined to comment.

The Parisian maker of footwear once worn by actor Marcello Mastroianni and artist Andy Warhol is known for its €2,090 leather monk shoes as well as custom-made models. Berluti also offers menswear, as well as accessories and suitcases.

Last week, the company announced it will dress the French team for the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris. LVMH will spend €150 million as an official sponsor.

Antoine Arnault’s sister Delphine, 48, the eldest of the five siblings, heads Dior, LVMH’s second-biggest fashion brand after Louis Vuitton.

Alexandre Arnault, 31, is in charge of product and communications at Tiffany & Co, while brother Frederic, 29, is chief executive of watch brand Tag Heuer. Jean Arnault, 25, is in charge of developing Louis Vuitton’s watch category.

As part of the reshuffle, Mr Mansvelt will be replaced by Charles Leung, the current chief executive of LVMH jewellery label Fred. A successor for Mr Leung will be announced in due course, LVMH said.

Updated: December 04, 2023, 5:00 AM