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December 17, 2009

Russia's richest man a step closer to owning Nets

AP via USAToday.com
by Tom Canavan

A Russian billionaire has moved a step closer to becoming the NBA's first non-North American owner.

Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings and the company that owns the Nets announced on Wednesday they had completed their agreement to create a partnership that would own the NBA team and develop the Atlantic Yards project in New York.

The agreement provides for the sale of 80 percent of the struggling Nets and 45 percent of a new Nets arena to Prokhorov's Onexim, subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors.

It also includes an option for Prokhorov to acquire up to 20 percent of Atlantic Yards, which would surround the new Barclays Center arena with apartments and office towers on 22 acres in Brooklyn.


Additional coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, As interim move to Newark falls apart (for now), Prokhorov agreement to buy Nets moves ahead

Approval by the NBA is still in the offing, but is not expected to hit major roadblocks.

(DDDB reminds us that Russia's richest man is the major beneficiary of major government support; surely, as I and others have suggested, it would have been much harder to get political support for Atlantic Yards had Prokhorov been involved from the start.)

Meanwhile, a Star-Ledger article, Deal to move NJ Nets from Meadowlands to Newark's Prudential Center falls apart, explains how the possible interim move of the Nets to The Rock has stalled under the outgoing Jon Corzine administration and must be restarted by the incoming Chris Christie administration.

However, as the newspaper reported, the Nets are still interested in Newark.

That means they--via expected new majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov--could even pay the penalty.

Or, more likely, restart the discussions. Remember, there was once talk of preseason games in Newark, and then Nets brass said no. But after further talks, the Nets wound up playing two preseason games in the Prudential Center.

It's all negotiable.

NY Times, Russian Billionaire Moves a Step Closer to Buying the Nets

Charles V. Bagli reports:

The deal with the current owner, the developer Bruce C. Ratner, is subject to approval by the N.B.A. Board of Governors. An N.B.A. spokesman, Michael Bass, said, “We expect that the Board of Governors will vote on the application early in 2010.”

Ratner must also gain possession of the land for the arena, at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, which is expected to happen in March.

NY1, Russian Billionaire Signs Off On Brooklyn Arena Deal

The agreement comes a day after Forest City Ratner announced that $511 million in tax-free bonds for the arena were sold.

Opponents were hoping the bond sale would fall flat and kill the project.

Last month, the New York Court of Appeals ruled the state can use eminent domain to force the sale of businesses and residences to make way for the nearly $5 billion project.

Posted by eric at December 17, 2009 12:08 AM