September 27, 2012
Playing Ball in Brooklyn Arts
The Wall Street Journal
The Journal, which is not a development partner of Forest City Ratner, is still willing to do its part for the New York media's "Barclays Center Week."
Mikhail Prokhorov is making a name for himself in Brooklyn.
The owner of the Brooklyn Nets and his sister, Irina Prokhorova, have made a $1 million grant to the Brooklyn Academy of Music through the Mikhail Prokhorov Fund. The grant will be announced Thursday at a cocktail reception before the BAM 30 Next Wave Gala, as will the new artistic partnership the grant will support, the TransCultural Express: American and Russian Arts Today.
"BAM is our next door neighbor in Brooklyn. Barclays Center arena is a five-minute walk," he wrote in an email. "They are strategic advisors on the cultural programming for the arena. What do good neighbors do? They hold a block party, they borrow sugar from one another and they collaborate on projects for the neighborhood, which is what we are doing."
NoLandGrab: Gotta hand it to Bruce. He chairs BAM's board to burnish his image, gets BAM to come out and shill for his boondoggle, and then gets Proky to pay them off. Well played, sir!
Atlantic Yards Report, WSJ: Prokhorov. "successful businessman in his home country," gives $1 million to BAM
Well, there are various definitions of "good neighbors," and the construction of the Barclays Center has not been so neighborly. As for "successful businessman," in post-Soviet Russia, that covers a lot of ground, including common corrupt if not illegal dealings.
Charitable contributions, especially when accompanied by pleasant press coverage, help people forget that.
NLG: Yeah, if they're "good" neighbors, we'd hate to see bad ones.
Posted by eric at 10:02 AM
Prokhorov not ready to score hockey team for Brooklyn until Nets win title
The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com]
by Rich Calder
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov says he won't consider buying the Islanders or another NHL team and moving them to Brooklyn until he first makes good on a promise to deliver the borough an NBA championship by 2015.
"First I need to have a championship, so after this I can think — but not before," Prokhorov told the Post following Friday’s ceremonial ribbon-cutting of the new Barclays Center.
When asked if it’s important to have a second pro team playing in Barclays Center with the Nets, Prokhorov said he only has 45 percent interest in the arena and that arena developer Bruce Ratner "knows best."
"If [Ratner] wants to, it’s great, but it is better for him to make the decision," Prokhorov said.
NoLandGrab: In that case, abandon all hope, ye Nyets fans! Since the Barclays Center is not compatible with NHL hockey, we guess that means the Nyets will never win a championship.
Posted by eric at 9:49 AM
September 17, 2012
Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov opens up about rap, Jay Z, women and more in October issue of DETAILS magazine
Nets' billionaire owner on rapping with Jay Z: 'I could cause irreparable damage to his professional career'
NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy
Prokhorov won't be kicking any rhymes at Jay Z's concert on Sept. 28, but he is attending next week's ribbon cutting ceremony at the Barclays Center. And after purchasing the Nets for $200 million three years ago, his investment is expected to skyrocket in value with the team moving to Brooklyn. Prokhorov has estimated the franchise will be worth $1 billion in 2015 (even though he'll likely be faced with stiff luxury tax penalties, considering he handed out over $300 million in contracts this offseason alone).
Whether or not one of Russia's most eligible bachelors finds a woman worth marrying, don't expect him to feel heartbroken or nostalgic. Ever.
"The word miss is not part of my vocabulary," he said when asked if there's anything he'll miss about the Nets former home of New Jersey.
Posted by eric at 10:58 AM
September 6, 2012
Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy
Intelligence Analysis and Reporting
Are the Nets' corporate offices really a nest of KGB spies? Don't say we didn't tell you so.
If Boris Volodarsky is correct, then Prokhorov’s riches stem from his approval by the Russian Secret Service, and the decision to buy the Nets had to be one made by the shadow KGB . No one, especially a foreigner, can buy into the NBA without approval of the league. So what did the league do? NBA commissioner David Stern, always eager to trumpet the game’s global expansion, said Nets fans could feel good about Prokhrov.
“I think that any investor who stepped into the opportunity he did would be important and bring excitement, because it’s the final step in ensuring that there will be a brand new building in Brooklyn and the Nets will return to New York,” said Stern.
So, if Boris Volodarsky is to be believed, the Russian secret service now has a fully legal operation ensconced in the head offices of the Nets. Time will tell what effect this may have.
Posted by eric at 10:47 AM
August 23, 2012
Fuhgeddaboudit! Nets’ value soars in Brooklyn
by Josh Kosman
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is getting a nice bump in his “Net” worth.
The 6-foot-8-inch Nets owner has seen the value of his investment more than double since he bought the team two years ago, thanks to the move into the more financially friendly Barclays Center.
As the Nets gear up for the first season in the soon-to-be-completed Barclays Center, the team is now worth roughly $575 million, according to one sports investment banker. That’s 60 percent more than they were valued just last season by Forbes.
In addition, the team may post its first profit in a decade, The Post has learned.
Atlantic Yards Report, Prokhorov math: value of investment in Nets has jumped upon move to Brooklyn, but how much
Yes, the move of the Nets to Brooklyn has caused the team value to soar--another outcome not factored in as city and state agencies negotiated subsidies with the developer Forest City Ratner.
Also not factored in is this: the amount Prokhorov has promised to invest in the team as part of the deal.
The Nets have the league's third-highest payroll, as noted by NetsDaily's Bob Windrem: $81.8 million, prompting a luxury tax of at least $11.5 million this year, and perhaps double next year.
Still, Prokhorov now has most of the team and 45% of the arena. What enabled it? Government help.
Brooklyn Trolley Blogger, Brooklyn Nets: Mikhail Prokhorov Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is
BTB appears to be the only person fooled by Mikhail Prokhorov's staged foray into "electoral" politics.
And you can just ask Pussy Riot; the all-girl punk-rock band arrested and jailed as dissenters in Moscow; how lucky Prokhorov really is to be safely back in the States. The Nets owner decided to take on Vladimir Putin, and run for President of Russia. Joking aside, there was a real possibility his ownership of the Nets would be placed in a Trust, if in fact he become the elected leader of modern day Russia.
To the relief of Nets fans, Prokhorov lost the elections, and is finally back in town to antagonize the Knicks, which is right where he should be.
NoLandGrab: Phew, that was a close one.
NetsDaily, Nets To Make Big Profit in Brooklyn
Posted by eric at 10:49 AM
August 21, 2012
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Takes Dig At Knicks’ ‘Little Man’ James Dolan
CBS New York
The Brooklyn Nets did all they could this offseason to try and give the Knicks a run for their money in the Big Apple battleground.
With stars on both sides, the rivalry is sure to entertain on the court.
Off it? Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has that covered.
In a recently published New York Magazine article, writer Will Leitch said the 6-foot-8 Russian billionaire referred to Knicks owner James Dolan as “that little man.”
“It’s clear that the Nets did not move to Brooklyn to be Pepsi to Jim Dolan’s Coke,” wrote Leitch. “They want to be Veuve Clicquot.”
NoLandGrab: We think Leitch means they want to be Armand de Brignac.
ProBasketballTalk [NBCSports.com], Prokhorov refers to James Dolan as “the little man”
(Prokhorov told me back in December that he plans on attending a quarter of the regular-season games and “all the playoff ones.” He also made sure that I heard him call Dolan “that little man.”)
Posted by eric at 11:07 AM
July 10, 2012
While Prokhorov opens wallet for stars, community facing the Barclays Center arena won't see money for more cops, new railyard, increased subway service, worker training
Atlantic Yards Report
Brooklyn Nets fans, led by the pseudonymous Net Income (aka Bob Windrem) are thrilled by the emergence of the team's big-spending owner, who's on the cusp of landing Dwight Howard, as I wrote today.
But Prokhorov and especially his partner Bruce Ratner are pretty chintzy on the other end. Prokhorov saves from all the deals that Ratner, his partner on the arena, has made. And Ratner, rather than dig deeper into his corporate pocket or trade a greater share of ownership for Prokhorov's cash, has tried to save on many aspects that might make the project more "civic."
Here are a few things Ratner hasn't paid for or won't pay for:
- an Independent Compliance Monitor for the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)
- wages for trainees in a much-promoted training program that was mandated in the CBA, now subject of a lawsuit
- a replacement railyard the size initially promised
- increases in police coverage generated by the arena
- increases in subway service generated by the arena
- a residential permit parking program, as in a model CBA
- the removal of street trees (though Ratner eventually coughed it up)
- increased garbage pickup on blocks near the arena (this is unresolved)
This saves Ratner well over $100 million, just on the railyard. The rest are, relatively speaking, modest expenditures, though the police and subway costs should be among the more substantial.
And that's not even mentioning the significant direct subsidies ($271.5+ million), the giveaway of naming rights ($200+ million), tax breaks, low-cost land, and other benefits for the project. The New York City Independent Budget Office called the arena a money-loser for the city.
Posted by eric at 11:38 AM
July 6, 2012
Dwight Howard deal would cost Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov $107.5M over next four years
From brand new Barclays Center to trading for Joe Johnson, Mikhail Prokhorov is doing whatever it takes to build Nets franchise.
NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy
Mikhail Prokhorov has more than 100 million reasons to halt the Dwight Howard chase. But it helps to be the richest owner in all of American sports.
Prokhorov, unlike the vast number of NBA owners, has pooh-poohed the idea of a revamped luxury tax, bankrolling the Nets’ uninhibited spending and star chasing this offseason. If the Nets pull off a trade with Orlando for Howard and, assuming they re-sign Howard to a max deal and keep the contracts of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, Prokhorov will pay a luxury tax of approximately $107.5 million over the next four years, according to a league source.
None of this would be possible without Prokhorov: not the $1 billion arena nearly complete in Brooklyn, not the trading for Johnson’s supposedly untradeable contract, and not the continued chase for Howard while approaching cap hell.
NoLandGrab: And let's never mind worrying how Prokhorov, ahem, "earned" those billions. To paraphrase Mike Bloomberg, no one will remember how the former Soviet Union was plundered by ex-KGB agents and their Oligarch cronies, they'll just know that the Nets could acquire Joe Johnson's absurdly expensive contract.
NetsDaily, Prokhorov Willing to Spend...A LOT
Mikhail Prokhorov had a good day Thursday. According to the Forbes Real Time Billionaire Tracker, he made $26.37 million or almost enough to pay for Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace's salaries next season...in a day! Its that kind of wealth and the willingness to spend it that separates Prokhorov from most NBA owners ... and those who previously controlled the Nets.
All of this has concerned salary cap weenies and Mark Cuban, but not Avery Johnson. "When he first bought the team, he said he would do whatever it took to build a championship team."
NLG: Though "salary cap weenies" know that the Nets are subject to a hard cap, so it's likely they will have to pull a couple hotdog vendors from the stands to fill out their roster.
Keegan's Kickoff, Make it Nashty
Keegan may have taken one too many kickoffs to the noggin.
This Nets team is going to be awesome. D-Will, top 3 point guard. Joe Johnson, all star. Gerald Wallace can guard anyone. Kris Humphries-Kardashian isn't bad but that's why they got Mr. Energy Reggie Evans to push Kristopher Kardashian. New sign at the top of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn....NO KARDASHIANS ALLOWED.
NLG: A "No Kardashians" sign would be less offensive than the Barclays logo, certainly.
Posted by eric at 10:01 AM
April 16, 2012
Prokhorov, in the New Yorker, said he hasn't broken laws, but admits to corrupt dealings (and shrugs them off as inevitable in Russia)
Atlantic Yards Report
Now that Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov has visited Brooklyn, with a press conference last week at the Barclays Center site, let's take a look at Julia Ioffe's recent New Yorker piece, The Master and Mikhail: Are Putin and Prokhorov running for President against or with each other?.
The main message was that the billionaire may have appeared to be a Kremlin stooge when he entered politics, but he had moved past that--at least somewhat--in his run against Vladimir Putin.
But the two passages most interesting to me regarded Prokhorov's business success. The first:
“Can you please tell me, is it possible to earn a billion honestly?” an elderly man asked, echoing the sentiment, common in Russia, that the oligarchs earned their fortunes through deceit and government connections.
“I think you can,” Prokhorov replied, his face radiating self-regard. “At the very least, I haven’t broken any laws.”
Not breaking the law is not the same as behaving honestly, as Forest City Ratner's dealings in Yonkers might show.
NoLandGrab: Here's our original coverage of the piece.
Posted by eric at 11:33 AM
April 12, 2012
Prokhorov in Brooklyn: the conquering hero, except to one columnist paying attention
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder also rounds up the saturation coverage of The Great Prokhorov, some of which we've already covered.
Well, Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to Brooklyn Tuesday to look at the under-construction Barclays Center arena and pretty much conquered the fawning sports press, with one notable exception.
(Prokhorov with Bruce Ratner, in photo from the Nets' web site.)
Here are some of the headlines, which hint at the low level of actual news:
- Owner Says the Nets and New Arena Remain Hard-Hat Zones, New York Times
- Nets owner Prokhorov starts courting Deron, New York Post
- Mikhail Prokhorov ready for "throwdown’ over Deron Williams, New York Daily News
- Nets owner Prokhorov jokes about "crushing" Mark Cuban over Deron Williams, The Record
- Prokhorov speaks in Brooklyn, NJ Nets Nation
- NETS: 6 Months Out, Prokhorov Tours Barclays Center Site, Nets site
- Nets’ Brooklyn Dream Is A Reality, NBA.com
- Mikhail Prokhorov dishes on D-Will, ESPN New York (with video)
- Prokhorov challenges Cuban to duel, weighs in on Dwight, D-Will. CBS Sports
- Mikhail Prokhorov vows to crush Mark Cuban in kickboxing if Deron Williams signs with Mavericks, Sporting News
- In His Rising Arena, Nets Owner Prokhorov Foresees His Team As NBA Chamption, NY1 (with video)
The NY1 piece is particularly egregious, since it's not "his" arena (he's junior partner to Bruce Ratner in operating a nominally state-owned facility), nor does he "foresee" so much as "aspire" or "b.s."
No AYR at the press conference
Why wasn't I there? I was told it was for "accredited media" only, so they wouldn't let me in.
Then again, Prokhorov, according to the boosterish NetsDaily blogger "Net Income," aka Bob Windrem, "appreciates bloggers in both sports and politics" and was welcomed to Prokhorov's luxury box. It apparently depends on the bloggers.
Posted by eric at 11:12 AM
April 11, 2012
Billionaire Nets Owner Won't Be Your New Neighbor [POLL]
The Russian billionaire claims he would just "drive up the prices" in the neighborhoods surrounding the Barclays Center.
Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh
From the department of inane polls:
Did Mikhail Prokhorov snub Brooklyn, or do us all a favor?
- Prokhorov purchasing a house near the Barclays Center would have driven up prices for sure. No thanks!
- Oh well, it could have been exciting to have a Russian billionaire for a neighbor!
How about a third choice?
- Why is this a news story?
Posted by eric at 10:06 PM
Mikhail Prokhorov, like the Nets, is a work in progress
by Dave D'Alessandro
The Star-Ledger's sports columnist throws some cold vodka on the Prokhorov myth.
As everyone knows, there’s no better substitute for substantive dialogue than a photo op and some glib remarks while standing in front of a construction site.
So in keeping with this tradition, Mikhail Prokhorov faced the media inside a dusty Barclays Center in Brooklyn Tuesday, and answered questions for the first time in 14 months.
But glib is what Prokhorov does well, yet if you’re looking for something substantial, keep looking. He never gives the impression that he is in control of the Nets franchise, as even his clichés — “It is easy to have a playoff team, but it is very difficult to have a championship team, so we need to be very patient and go step by step” — are diametrically opposed to what his GM practices.
So it occurs to you: Prokhorov can’t speak of the future because he knows very little about the present. He threw some names out there (Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks) to signify that he’s been paying attention, but overall, he still sounds less engaged than the average towel boy.
It’s time to admit the obvious: We’re talking about an absentee owner here, as this guy never really had any intention of doing much more than writing checks.
Posted by eric at 1:29 PM
Owner Says the Nets and a New Arena Remain Hard-Hat Zones
The New York Times
by Richard Sandomir
Jim Dolan must wish he had Mikhail Prokhorov's PR people.
Mikhail D. Prokhorov said he could not discuss contract talks with Deron Williams.
“For the time being, it’s top secret,” Prokhorov, the Nets’ majority owner, said Tuesday during a news conference inside the unfinished Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Why the omertà about the point guard so essential to the team’s future?
“N.B.A. rules prohibit me from comment on a potential contract,” he said. “Please wait for summer.”
When reminded by a reporter that he is not prohibited from discussing his own free agent, he quickly shed his self-imposed gag order.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has a message for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban: Pursue Deron Williams at your own risk.
“Let the best man win,” the Russian billionaire said with a smile inside the shell of the Nets’ future home, the Barclays Center, during Tuesday’s press conference in Brooklyn. “If he wins, I’ll crush him in a kickboxing throwdown.”
Hang Time Blog, NETS’ BROOKLYN DREAM IS A REALITY
The Brooklyn Paper, Prokhorov isn’t looking for a Brooklyn pied-a-terre
Posted by eric at 1:12 PM
Mikhail Prokhorov in his own words
The InterNets [NYDailyNews.com]
by Stefan Bondy
The Daily News, in just publishing a transcript of Nets' principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov's comments to the media yesterday, is actually doing us a favor by not layering on the fawning NetsDaily-type "most interesting man in the world" blather.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov spoke to the media today at the construction site of the Barclays Center. This is what he said:
Opening statement: When I bought a share of the Barclays Center together with my partner, we had a joke, that I became a partnership in a hole. But now I’m quite happy that we are all here. And with my partner Bruce Ratner and I, we held on to that vision. We saw the future. And we saw that it will be really a wonderful venue for all the Brooklynites. And we saw that it will be a joy and excitement for all the community. The Nets, like the arena, is still under construction. It’s on the building stage and I will keep my prediction of a championship. I will do my best, together with my friends, together with my partners, we will make the Brooklyn Nets the champions of the NBA. And I am very committed to this.
Thoughts on arena? It’s not my first visit to the arena. Now it looks really good. So I think just welcome the 21st century. I’m sure it will be the best arena in the world. And I am proud to have a partner like Bruce Ratner and we can do together a great miracle. So now we have practically the state of the art arena, and we need to have a genius team. All this combination will give another emotion, another joy, another excitement to the great borough, Brooklyn.
What will it take to build Nets to title contender? So first of all I want to tell that we need to be very patient because it’s easy to have a good team, and playoff team. And it’s very difficult to make a championship team. We need to be really patient. We need to go really slow step to find the best pieces for the team. Not only just really good players. But we need to have the players which can be one very strong single team. Just team spirit. What we need. And we are really on the right way.
If it's "easy to have a good team," what's stopping the Nets from achieving even mediocrity?
Mr. Proky, in your visits what do you think of Brooklyn? So I think I read the article in the Daily News that said that every 9-out-of-10 Brooklynites quite happy for the arena for the team moving. And I feel that Brooklyn deserves a professional team since the time the Dodgers left in 1957. And of course I know there is some kind of skeptical criticism, and of course it’s impossible to make happy just everyone....
NoLandGrab: "It’s impossible to make happy just everyone?" Could it be that Mr. Prokhorov is reading NoLandGrab, too, and not just nonsense from the Daily News?
Posted by eric at 12:56 PM
April 10, 2012
Developer Bruce Ratner shows #NETS owner Mikhail Prokhorov the future practice court
netsbasketball via yfrog
NoLandGrab: "There, Patti Hagan, right over there!"
Posted by eric at 12:00 PM
April 9, 2012
After suffering political and financial blows, NJ Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov returns to the U.S.
Prokhorov ready to vie with Mavericks' Mark Cuban for Deron Williams
NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy
“If you chase two hares, you will catch none.”
Russians are known for speaking in proverbs and this one, preaching constraint, is a relevant cautionary tale for Mikhail Prokhorov as he prepares for his return this week to the United States.
Prokhorov chased two hares, stretching himself thin in recent months. He failed in his presidential bid against Vladimir Putin. His net worth took a reported $5 billion hit in 2011. His Brooklyn-bound team is floundering under the weight of its own ambitions, losing out on Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard and, for the fifth straight season, the playoffs. The Nets lived and faltered by yet another Russian proverb: “If you’re afraid of wolves, don’t go to the woods.” They now risk being devoured by the pack of superstars they hunted.
The oligarch is carrying a defeat streak into his next uphill battle, a fight for Deron Williams that might determine the fate of the Brooklyn Nets for the foreseeable future. His opponent in this war, Mark Cuban, might not wield the same powers of persuasion as Putin, but is increasingly recognized as the frontrunner to snatch Williams in free agency — “a threat,” as characterized by Nets coach Avery Johnson.
NoLandGrab: "Failed in his presidential bid against Vladimir Putin?" Hardly. Unlike his failing ownership of the Nets, his phony opposition candidacy worked to Kremlin perfection, with Putin winning election in a deeply tainted landslide. Presumably, though, he's not working secretly with Mark Cuban to send Deron Williams Dallas-bound. That'll work out on its own.
Nets Blog [NYPost.com], Prokhorov spends Easter Sunday with the Nets
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov settled into a luxury box at Prudential Center Sunday night shortly before tip-off to watch his team take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Prokhorov, who hasn't attended a home game in over a year, and hasn't seen the Nets play at all since they swept a pair of games against the Raptors in London last year, is scheduled to hold a press conference Tuesday morning in Brooklyn at the site of the Barclays Center, where he will tour the facility for the first time.
Posted by eric at 11:01 AM
April 4, 2012
Nets owner to meet with commissioner in New York
by Tim Bontemps
They must be all in a tizzy over at NetsDaily. Sad that the most excitement your team generates is a visit from the owner.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has been missing in action, but that will change next week.
That’s when Prokhorov will meet with NBA commissioner David Stern, and Prokhorov may attend the league’s Board of Governors meetings next Thursday and Friday, Stern said at an event in Manhattan Tuesday to kick off NBA Green Week presented by Sprint.
At those meetings, the Board of Governors officially will vote to approve the Nets’ impending move to Brooklyn, along with the team’s name change from the New Jersey Nets to the Brooklyn Nets.
Stern also spoke glowingly of the ongoing construction of the team’s new home in Brooklyn, the Barclays Center, which is set to open this fall.
“It’s going to be on time, [and] it’s going to be a spectacular addition to the New York entertainment scene,” Stern said.
NoLandGrab: Uh, David, we like to say a spectacular addition to "New York's civic life" it's a "civic project," remember?
Posted by eric at 12:32 PM
March 5, 2012
Putin beats the spread
Global Public Square [CNN.com]
by Matthew Rojansky
Our condolences to "opposition" "candidate" and New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who finished a distant third to Vladimir Putin in yesterday's Russian Presidential election with just 7.84% of the vote (even the Nets have a better winning percentage).
But is Proky really a loser?
Waiting for the returns from Sunday’s Russian presidential elections was a bit like watching a lopsided football game at a Las Vegas sports bar - everyone knew who was favored to win, but what really mattered was the spread.
On the gridiron of Russian presidential politics, Vladimir Putin was the heavy favorite and he did not disappoint. Despite months of anti-regime protests and a relatively transparent voting process, Putin appears to have won well above 60% of the vote, with a respectable turnout of just over 56%. This means that Putin will not only return to the Kremlin in May, but will claim a mandate to govern based on the will of the Russian people. As in sports betting, this outcome promises a big payoff for some, and a long, cold winter for others.
So who were the winners and losers after Sunday’s blowout?
The Oligarchs: Despite the poor showing by “independent” presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs, he and his neighbors on the Forbes list of Russian billionaires stand to profit handsomely under a new Putin presidency. Putin makes no secret of his disgust for the crooked 1990’s privatization schemes that made Prokhorov and others rich, yet he has no intention of undoing the results. Putin’s message to the oligarchs is simple: make your money but stay out of politics. And they have done so, with the exceptions of Prokhorov, who is suspected to have run on Putin’s orders, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky who lost his company and is rotting in jail. The reward for the oligarchs’ obedience? Putin plans a new round of privatization worth some $50 billion over the next five years.
Posted by eric at 9:46 AM
February 23, 2012
THE MASTER AND MIKHAIL
Are Putin and Prokhorov running for President against or with each other?
The New Yorker
by Julia Ioffe
On December 24, 2011, Mikhail Prokhorovbanking and mining billionaire, N.B.A. team owner, international playboy, and Russia's third-richest manset out to be among the people. A crowd of about eighty thousand had come out to Moscow's Sakharov Avenue to demand free elections to lambaste Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The urban professionals who made up the core of the Moscow protests have come to despise Putin, and they generally despise Communists. But they also don't have much love for Prokhorov. For most of them, he is a Kremlin stooge, taking orders from Putin, his ostensible opponent. According to this theory, which Prokhorov denies, his campaign is roughly equivalent to what would happen in Barack Obama persuaded T. Boone Pickens to run as an independent, in order to siphon votes from the actual Republican nominee.
The story on the Nets' owner's phony Russian presidential campaign contains some additional entertaining tidbits.
For one, like everyone else involved with the Nets and Atlantic Yards, Proky doesn't need sleep until now:
"No, no, I'm not wilting," Prokhorov said, when I remarked on his posture. "I'm just catching up on sleep. I'm sleeping seven hours a night now! Before, it was four or five."
Of course, just because Proky's in bed, doesn't mean he's sleeping.
In general, Prokhorov is unapologetic about his predilections. ("How will I become president without a first lady?" he recently wrote on his Facebook page. "Let me tell you a secret: I had my first lady when I was seventeen.")
Speaking of shtupping, Proky could maybe use marketing genius Brett Yormark's help with his Russian version of the Toyota Prius:
He began investing in high-tech and nanotechnology projects, which were being pushed by the Kremlin in its drive to diversify the Russian economy. One of these ventures is a Russian-made hybrid vehicle whose name, to the Russian ear, sounds like "Fuck-Mobile." Putin gave it a spin last spring and praised it as "a totally new product" with an "attention-grabbing" name.
article [Full access requires subscription]
Posted by eric at 11:46 AM
January 30, 2012
Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Worth Billions Less
by Luisa Kroll
Russian billionaire and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was officially registered as a Russian presidential candidate on Wednesday, after collecting the required 2 million signatures. His name will now appear on the March 4 ballot alongside heavily favored candidate, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and three others.
While he’s been busy campaigning, his net worth has taken a beating. Prokhorov is now worth between $12 billion and $13 billion, down from $18 billion last March when we published our 2011 ranking of the World’s Billionaires.
Most of that loss has come from the poor performance of his public holdings, which have gotten battered along with the Russian stock market.
One investment that has not lost value is Prokhorov’s NBA basketball team, the soon to be Brooklyn Nets, which he bought in 2009 and plans to move into a new arena in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards later this year. According to our recently released NBA valuations, the team is valued at $357 million, 14% more than last year.
NoLandGrab: While the Nets may have appreciated in value on the backs of New York's taxpayers, the Curse of the Nets is surely responsible for Prokhorov's losses. At this rate, he'll be broke in three years.
NorthJersey.com, Nets gains – in spite of current struggles
The annual Forbes NBA valuations came out this week, and the Nets are ranked last in revenue, 28th out of 30 franchise in debt/value ratio, and 28th in operating income (minus $23.6 million, which may be being kind).
So you might think the Nets will place 28th, 29th, or 30th based on those numbers.
Instead, they rank 14th – up from 21st a year ago. So I checked in today with Forbes reporter Kurt Badenhausen on what seemed like might be a discrepancy.
Badenhausen said that the future economic prospects of the Nets – who are moving to Brooklyn this fall – is somewhat “baked into the value” of the franchise at $357 million.
But he cautioned that honeymoons with new sports facilities keep getting shorter and shorter – and cited the Mets’ CitiField as an example.
“Fans have shown, with the NBA, that they will not support a team that loses week after week,” Badenhausen said.
Posted by eric at 10:47 AM
January 9, 2012
A profile of Prokhorov on MSNBC by Robert Windrem, who does not acknowledge he's also "Net Income," chief editor of Nets Daily
Atlantic Yards Report
Who knew? We never had "Net Income" pegged for being a real journalist!
So who wrote the stylish, reasonably thorough, and only slightly skewed profile on MSNBC's Open Channel, dedicated to "investigative reporting by NBC News," headlined Meet the NBA tycoon and rapper's friend who could be president of Russia.
One Robert Windrem, described as a senior investigative producer for NBC News and a Nets season ticket holder.
Simply describing him as a "Nets season ticket holder" is just a tad inadequate. He's also Net Income, the ubiquitous, prolific pseudonymous main editor of the NetsDaily web site.
NoLandGrab: Windrem also triples as "Bobbo," the insulting, factually deficient sometime-commenter to Atlantic Yards Report posts.
"The most interesting man in the world?" Windrem needs to get out more.
Posted by eric at 11:19 AM
December 15, 2011
Prokhorov announces plans to buy major media group, pardon Khodorkovsky; is not likely to gain much support
Atlantic Yards Report
Despite doubts about his candidacy, Russian presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov is saying the right things, announcing plans to pardon jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose conviction is seen as Kremlin-directed.
Meanwhile, Is Prokhorov learning from Silvio Berlusconi and Mike Bloomberg, not to mention Mort Zuckerman and Rupert Murdoch? Apparently. The AP reports:
The billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets running for the Russian presidency against Vladimir Putin is expected to make a formal offer to buy a leading media holding Wednesday, his representative said.
[Mikhail] Prokhorov will be making a formal offer to buy the Kommersant publishing house from Alisher Usmanov, Prokhorov’s spokeswoman Olga Stukalova told The Associated Press. Usmanov, however, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying he doesn’t have any plans to sell it.
NoLandGrab: It might be easier to start his own "newspaper" instead.
Posted by eric at 11:30 AM
December 14, 2011
Is Prokhorov's candidacy for real? Amid the coverage, some opposition figures say he's a Kremlin stooge
Atlantic Yards Report
Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov's phony candidacy for Russia's presidency is drawing praise from phony-ish tabloids and skepticism from those more in the know.
Is Russian billionaire (and Nets majority owner) Mikhail Prokhorov's (NBA-sanctioned) foray into politics a Kremlin-sanctioned play? Amid all the coverage, that's a minority view, but it's one taken by some respected opposition figure and backed by some circumstantial evidence.
The New York Daily News, in an editorial yesterday, saluted Prokhorov:
The unthinkable appears to be happening to Vladimir Putin: A formidable figure will challenge the Russian strongman in that country’s 2012 presidential election.
Raise a glass of Stoli to adopted New York billionaire and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov for having the guts even to say that he’ll try to dethrone the ruthless would-be leader-for-life.
What if he's a fake?
But Newsweek/Daily Beast correspondent Anna Nemtsova asked on 12/12/11, Is Russia’s Mikhail Prokhorov a Fake Challenger for Vladimir Putin?:
On Monday they finally clashed. Prokhorov, who owns the New Jersey Nets, announced that he would run for president against Putin, an act that means he recognizes the current prime minister as a legitimate candidate. [Boris] Nemtsov and other opposition leaders, meanwhile, are calling for Russians to take to the streets next week and demand Putin’s resignation.
Flirting with a crowd of journalists this afternoon, a playful smile on his lips, Prokhorov said he had made “the most serious decision” of his life. The oligarch—chosen by the Kremlin in June to lead the newly created pseudoliberal Right Cause party before being ousted in September—would become a candidate in the presidential election in March.
NoLandGrab: Prokhorov's candidacy is as real as Bruce Ratner's promise of 10,000 permanent jobs and Proky's guarantee that the Nets would make the playoffs last year.
Some folks are less sanguine than the Daily News about Prokhorov's candidacy.
Daniel Goldstein, co-founder of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, which opposes the Nets plans to build an NBA arena in Brooklyn as part of the Atlantic Yards project, didn’t hold back his feeling about Prokhorov.
“It is extremely troubling that the potential next president of Russia is the beneficiary of eminent domain in America and one of the most corrupt land grabs we've ever seen in New York City,” he said. “I really feel for the Russians having to choose between a kleptocrat and a tyrant."
Developer Bruce Ratner, who is partnering with Prokhorov in building the Barclays Center for the Nets, declined comment on Prokhorov running for president of Russia, and Nets brass also remained tight lipped about their owner's political aspirations.
Posted by eric at 11:44 AM
December 13, 2011
NBA says it has no problem with Prokhorov's presidential run; will he simply be seen as the Nets' owner, or also as a beneficiary of sweetheart deals?
Atlantic Yards Report
According to MarketWatch, the NBA says "a political career — even being head of state — is no impediment to owning a team."
That's very interesting. Wouldn't someone cry foul if, say, Mitt Romney bought the New Orleans Hornets--the league wants to sell it--to boost his career?
Owning a team has already boosted Prokhorov's image, and might well boost his career.
And what's to stop a politically minded owner from using his team, however it seems benign, to promote his political reputation? Say, a barnstorming tour through Russia. Or an effort to recruit support from Russian-Americans, and thus their relatives back home.
It's curious that NBA was willing to step in and stop a trade (maybe two) of Hornets guard Chris Paul. But Prokhorov, who's entering uncharted territory as an owner, is just fine. Until and unless he makes the league look bad.
Posted by eric at 12:49 PM
December 12, 2011
Billionaire and Ex-Minister to Oppose Putin in Russian Presidential Election
The New York Times
by Ellen Barry and David M. Herszenhorn
We just can't shake this feeling that Russian politics is a lot like professional wrestling.
Amid a crescendo of complaints from Russians fed up with the country’s tightly controlled political system, two prominent figures — a billionaire industrialist and the recently ousted finance minister — sought to fill a void in the opposition leadership on Monday.
The billionaire, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who owns shares in a major gold mining company and an array of other ventures in Russia as well as the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise in the United States, said he would run for president, challenging Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin.
“I made a decision, probably the most serious decision in my life: I am going to the presidential election,” Mr. Prohkorov said at a news conference.
For Mr. Prokhorov, whose business interests include a stake in the Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn, his leap into presidential politics could be risky. He is the first wealthy businessman to pursue a political goal in Russia against the governing authorities since the 2003 arrest of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the former chairman of the Yukos Oil Company, who was jailed after he began financing an opposition party. He remains in prison.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Nets Owner Prokhorov, Beneficiary of Eminent Domain Abuse, to Challenge Putin for Russian Presidency
When Mikhail Prokhorov bailed out Bruce Ratner by buying the New Jersey Nets and 45% of the Barclays Center Arena of Brooklyn© he was just another Russian oligarch (albeit the wealthiest one) and one of the richest men in the world (his rise to wealth built upon sweetheart deals).
But now, the man who benefitted greatly from New York State's controversial eminent domain condemnation, an MTA sweetheart deal for the Vanderbilt rail yards, and hundreds of millions in New York taxpayer subsidies and government breaks wants to become...the President of Russia*. (*Yes, we readily admit that we are not experts on Russian politics, and are certainly not stumping for Putin. So what this all means in Russia is a whole other story though we do think it is important to note how and where Mr. Prokhorov made his big splash into the American cultural and corporate consciousness.)
Posted by eric at 9:50 AM
November 18, 2011
Prokhorov a hardliner among team owners? No, acknowledges reporter who called him that
Atlantic Yards Report
Earlier this month, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com called principal Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov a "hardliner" among owners, happy to lose a season.
He's changed his tune, suggesting Prokhorov needs the season to start so he can keep star guard Deron Williams. Then again, as noted by NetsDaily, it's in Williams' financial interest to stay either way.
Posted by steve at 3:41 PM
November 12, 2011
One year later, rethinking the Prokhorov-sponsored "Global Russian" phenomenon
Atlantic Yards Report
Journalist/editor W.P. Norton, in Rediscovering Russian America (also published on the website of the Institute of Modern Russia), questions the term “Global Russians,” associated with the orbit of billionaire entrepreneur/Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and his magazine Snob (an acronym):
The term itself was originally coined to describe the affluent, intercontinental target audience of Snob magazine, a hardcopy-slash-Internet-enabled journal created in 2008. Snob, a media platform with offices in Moscow, London and New York City, was created for Prokhorov by such top-flight Russian editorial talent as Vladimir Yakovlev and Masha Gessen.
Interestingly, Russians themselves disagree heatedly when it comes to defining the concept.
And it turns out, according to Norton, the journalist who coined the term, Michael Idov, has left Snob and has distanced himself from the concept.
Posted by eric at 1:38 PM
Prokhorov, Jay-Z, Gehry, Ratner (for "Athletics"!) make "The Haute Living 100" of New York
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder catches up on the Haute Living 100.
The luxury mag Haute Living Magazine, in The Haute Living 100 of New York, places the Nets' owner in the top 20 of its Business category:
19. Mikhail Prokhorov
What makes him haute: Billionaire entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov began by becoming one of Russia’s leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. Prokhorov is the chairman of Polyus Gold and the president of Onexim Investment Group. Prokhorov is the third richest man from Russia and the 39th richest man in the world, with an estimated $18 billion net worth. He also is co-owner of the New Jersey Nets.
He's also the only Russian on the list, so clearly the basketball association is what got him there. Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner does not appear in this section, though he appears lower down.
Posted by eric at 1:12 PM
October 10, 2011
Most influential New Yorkers, according to Avenue magazine, include Jay-Z and Mikhail Prokhorov (and, wouldja believe it, Tom Allon)
Atlantic Yards Report
The October issue of Avenue magazine, is devoted to The Avenue A-list: The Most Influential New Yorkers of 2011 [PDF]. The Nets posted the article (as noted by NetsDaily), as it includes the team's majority owner and most prominent minority owner.
EMPIRE OF THE STATE
Shawn Carter, aka Jay-Z, is one of the most championed hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America—not to mention the beloved hubby of Beyoncé and soon-to-be father of her child. Growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, Jay-Z has sold approximately 50 million albums worldwide and won 13 Grammy Awards. Jay-Z co-owns the 40/40 Club, is part owner of the New Jersey Nets and is creator of the clothing line Rocawear.
46-year-old Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets, dove head-first into the city’s consciousness by becoming the first foreign owner of an NBA team and a central player in one of New York’s biggest real estate dramas. Prokhorov is Russia’s second-richest man and proved himself a major force in New York real estate after developer Harry Macklowe defaulted on a $513 million loan from Deutsche Bank AG. Prokhorov offered to buy the Park Avenue site in question for $250 million back in 2008.
While Prokhorov is surely influential, I'd still contend that Bruce Ratner is more influential, as Ratner has the local connections and pays for the lobbying.
NoLandGrab: Least influential? Clearly we voters and taxpayers, who can't elect anyone worth a damn, and keep getting stuck with Bruce Ratner's tabs.
Posted by eric at 11:39 AM
September 15, 2011
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov ousted from pro-Kremlin party
Oligarch claims Russian president Medvedev's aide is 'privatising' politics in dispute over parliamentary candidates
by Tom Parfitt
This is most probably a case of a fake candidate being ousted from his own fake party in a fake purge, but with Russia, it's hard to tell what's what.
Billionaire Russian metals tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov promised on Thursday to exact revenge on a top Kremlin official after the businessman was ousted as leader of his own political party.
Prokhorov, 46, Russia's third richest man with an estimated fortune of £11.4bn, accused President Dmitry Medvedev's deputy chief of staff, Vladislav Surkov, of "privatising the political system" and orchestrating his downfall.
In the closest that Moscow has seen to real political drama for several months, it appeared that members of Russia's governing elite had organised the tycoon's exit in order to punish him for refusing to toe the line after he agreed to head the minority Right Cause party in May.
Right Cause projected a liberal, pro-business agenda under Prokhorov's leadership and has been widely seen as a Kremlin-controlled project to create the illusion of political competition in the run up to parliamentary elections in December.
NoLandGrab: Now here's a coincidence Bruce Ratner has pretty much privatized the political system in New York State.
Posted by eric at 5:37 PM
August 10, 2011
Prokhorov's Profitable Future
Pseudonymous NetsDaily blogger and Mihail Prokhorov-worshipper Net Income doesn't foresee any economic downturn for the Russian oligarch.
"We have a team, we're building the arena, we've hired professional management, we have the option to buy in to another large project, the building of an office center. For me, this is a project with explosive profit potential," [Prokhorov] told Vedomosti, as translated by his Moscow staff. "The capitalization of the team will be $700 million after we move to Brooklyn. It will earn approximately 30 [million]. And the arena will be worth around $1 billion. We are planning to become NBA champions within five years."
Assuming he continues to own 80% of the team and gets 80% of the arena, that would mean his interest in the team would be worth $560 million and the arena $800 million. That's a grand total of $1.36 billion...on an investment of around $400 million.
And what of the "option to buy in to another large project, the building of an office center", which we have to assume is his option to buy up to 20% of Atlantic Yards. The price of that option has never been revealed and it is believed to be in negotiations now. Another story in Vedmosti suggested a price that seems impossibly low: $120 million for one fifth of a $4 billion project. According to Vedomosti, "a source close to one of the parties to the transaction" said Prokhorov is prepared to invest $120 million for a 20% stake in Atlantic Yards. The report added that Prokhorov plans to "participate in the development."
Posted by eric at 10:53 AM
June 25, 2011
Prokhorov to lead new Russian political party, Right Cause, seen as Kremlin creation; he claims capitalism is only for risk-takers
Atlantic Yards Report
Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of the New Jersey Nets continues to pay dividends, as that asset is the first thing attached to his name as he pursues a questionable political career.
From the New York Times, Nets Owner to Lead Political Party in Russia:
MOSCOW — The billionaire owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, Mikhail D. Prokhorov, was elected leader of a Russian political party on Saturday in the first foray of a prominent businessman into politics in nearly a decade.
Not that things aren't fishy:
The event suggested the start of a new political movement in Russia, and was spoken of in this way by participants, though the party’s creation was apparently coordinated with Russian government officials some time ago in preparation for Parliamentary elections scheduled for next fall. Rounding out the picture, a pro-Kremlin youth group staged a noisy protest outside.
Still, it had all the signs of a political maneuver used by Mr. Putin before, of co-opting opposition organizations by arranging to have nominally independent but in fact loyal figures take charge.
The AY description
And how does his venture into basketball get described?
In 2009, Mr. Prokhorov bought the Nets and a stake in the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn that will include their team’s new stadium. He has promised to pour some of his personal fortune into the team and apply his business acumen to obtaining players and improving the team’s performance.
Actually, he bought 45% of the arena holding company and has an option to buy 20% of the rest of the project.
If he's putting some of his personal fortune into the team, he's also using borrowed money and benefiting from subsidies wangled by his business partner, Bruce Ratner.
The AP report
The Associated Press was skeptical:
Right Cause is seen as a Kremlin creation designed to lure opposition-minded, pro-business voters, while building an illusion of competition with the ruling United Russia party ahead December's parliamentary elections.
Prokhorov said last month he was targeting second place in that vote.
President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that Russia needs more political competition, but the Justice Ministry made a mockery of that only days later when it denied registration to a real opposition party.
The article quotes Prokhorov:
"Our main slogan, 'Capitalism for all,' is not true. That's not possible. Capitalism is only for people who like to take risks, who like to take this responsibility upon themselves. An intelligent, professional and fair state should give others social guarantees and support," Prokhorov said.
But Prokhorov's fortune is based not only on taking risks but also on benefiting from insider deals after the fall of the Soviet Union.
And Atlantic Yards--wasn't that an insider deal too?
Posted by steve at 9:20 PM
May 25, 2011
The End is Near
Mike Silva's NY Baseball Digest
Could it be the New York Myets?
The word on the Street is that Wilpon may need to sell the team within the next thirty days since the infusion of cash from minority ownership may not be enough. It’s the financial sectors version of the rumor mill, but the facts make it very believable. This is where a Mark Cuban – it’s no secret he would love to own the Mets- could eventually swoop in and takes over the team. Remember, the minority investors were not vetted for a majority share by MLB. As much as Selig hates Cuban, wouldn’t he rather see his National League New York franchise solvent? Another name to keep an eye on is Mikhail Prokhorov. Think about how owning the Mets, along with their minor league affiliate in Brooklyn, would align with the Atlantic Yards project. Prokhorov would own SNY, and have the ammunition to really play ball with Jim Dolan and MSG.
Posted by eric at 1:32 PM
May 21, 2011
The Nets And Other Awesome Toys Of Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov
This gloss on Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is mostly just a set of pictures that communicate the insight that one of the advantages of being rich is owning lots of stuff.
Americans got to know him last year, purchased an 80% stake in the New Jersey Nets, as well as 45% of their yet-to-be-built home in Brooklyn.
Of course the Nets, whom he bought for a reported $200 million, are his best toy of all.
NoLandGrab: With a 24-58 record, the Nets seem less than awesome.
Posted by steve at 11:07 PM
May 17, 2011
Prokhorov will lead Russian political party close to Kremlin that some see as astroturf; rival calls it "serious mistake"
Atlantic Yards Report
Whenever you think the whole Atlantic Yards saga can't get any weirder, think again. Case in point.
Now, as he enters the political arena, his shorthand biography, at least for American consumption in the New York Times, inevitably includes the basketball team. The Times article is headlined Russian Billionaire Announces Plan for Political Party:
MOSCOW— Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire and owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, announced on Monday that he would lead a liberal Russian political party with close ties to the Kremlin.
The decision, seven months before parliamentary elections, seems to be part of a Kremlin effort to provide an alternative for Russians disaffected with the country’s dominant political party, United Russia, while still ensuring continued support for the ruling authorities.
The party that Mr. Prokhorov will lead, Right Cause, generally espouses pro-Western, liberal views in tune with those of the business and intellectual elite in Moscow and St. Petersburg. But the party was set up by the Kremlin in 2008, and some critics refer to it as nothing more than a fake opposition intended to help give Russia the semblance of a real, multiparty democracy.
Given that the party was set up by those in power, is there any echo of the Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement here?
Contributing to AY?
The Times states:
His international prestige has also been rising in large part because of his 2010 purchase of the Nets. Since closing the deal, he has courted fans, cavorting with Jay-Z, the rap star and part owner of the Nets, and pledging to contribute to the Atlantic Yards development project in Brooklyn, where the Nets will move. At a news conference in January, he declared, “America, I come in peace.”
Pledging to contribute to Atlantic Yards? That sounds like it's some kind of charity. If Prokhorov gets another piece of Atlantic Yards--remember, he already has 45% of the arena holding company, he wouldn't be contributing; he'd be investing to make a profit.
The New York Times, Russian Billionaire Announces Plan for Political Party
The Wall Street Journal, Nets Owner to Lead Russia Party
Posted by eric at 12:14 PM
May 6, 2011
In latest Observer "100 Most Powerful" in New York Real Estate list, Prokhorov again leads Ratner, bike lanes called example of "Mrs. Moses"
Atlantic Yards Report
The New York Observer has chosen its fourth annual list of The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate and, once again, Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, inexplicably to me, was placed ahead of Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner.
Well, the list (slideshow) "was chosen internally by The Observer using subjective criteria" and, below, I offer a few comments.
Note that the numbers in parentheses reflect last year's rank.
The Russian mogul
#24. Mikhail Prokhorov (43)
Controlling owner of the New Jersey Nets
When Mr. Prokhorov stepped forward last year as the new owner of the New Jersey Nets, he not only established himself as the latest real estate investor to interlope the city’s gridlock of property assets, but also forced himself onto Gotham’s cultural scene. So much so that New York magazine named him as the leader of the city’s “Global Russians.” Whether he can really make it in this town has yet to be seen, but, either way, for now he’s bought himself a ticket to the top.
Prokhorov owns a 45% stake in the arena holding company, which means he's less of a real estate investor than Bruce Ratner, and, as I wrote last year, Ratner has the connections and pays for the lobbying (and still does, as documented today). He's still more powerful, in my book.
A small bump-up for Bruce
#48. Bruce Ratner (53)
Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner
With the last of the lawsuits behind him, Mr. Ratner began work on what may still be the most cutting-edge arena in the country, even without Frank Gehry designing it. The developer is struggling to find financing for the first apartment tower on the site-but if he does, there are rumors it could be the largest prefabricated structure in the world, and something with the possibility to transform the way New York builds. And there is a certain Manhattan apartment building he and Mr. Gehry managed to finish together.
Not the largest, but the tallest prefab structure. And the last of the lawsuits still lingers.
NY Observer, The 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate
Posted by eric at 10:45 AM
March 2, 2011
B-Brawl! Prokhorov, the Nets’ Rakish Russian, Aims A.K. at Garden Party as Dolan’s Knicks Brace for Red Scare
by Reid Pillifant
If Mr. Prokhorov has any hope of capturing the city's affection, he must first conquer Brooklyn, which could prove a rocky beachhead.
The rosiest scenario has the Nets replacing the bygone baseball Dodgers as the borough's pro sports heroes, but the prospect of a glorious homecoming is quite a bit more complicated.
"For someone like me, who's a Brooklynite through and through, it's going to create dilemmas," said Senator Charles Schumer, who was born and still lives a short bicycle ride from the new arena site. "Because I've been a Knicks fan all along, and I guess I'll have to wait until they arrive and see what happens. But my inclination is to stick with the Nets"—he shook his head—"with the Knicks."
The team's arrival has already suffered years of bad press, thanks to the protracted battle over the $4 billion development at the Atlantic Yards site in downtown Brooklyn. Before a series of court rulings resolved it and construction started in earnest last year, the battle pitted neighborhood activists, many of them newcomers who spawned the borough's gentrification, against the team's former owner Bruce Ratner, the site's developer.
The bitterness lingers.
A couple of observations on the New York Observer's long article about the owners of the area's two hoops teams, headlined B-Brawl! Prokhorov, the Nets’ Rakish Russian, Aims A.K. at Garden Party as Dolan’s Knicks Brace for Red Scare:
1) They weren't able to interview either owner, Jim Dolan or Mikhail Prokhorov, so all the talk of rivalry is secondhand. But the Knicks are, yes, on the defensive--somewhat.
2) Somehow they didn't quote my observation about the meaning of the EB-5 investment.
3) I would wager I know who said this:
(A person familiar with the plans said Mr. Prokhorov is assembling an in-house retreat for himself 10 times the size of a standard luxury box "for he and his Russian friends.")
That's Brett Yormarkian tactics, and grammar.
4) Sen. Chuck Schumer, who's a Brooklynite, admits to dilemmas, since "I've been a Knicks fan all along." What? Schumer's been a huge supporter of Atlantic Yards. If the prospect of 10,000 phantom jobs no longer "enervates" him, what exactly does he support?
Follow the link for the rest of Norman Oder's Top 7 list.
Posted by eric at 11:57 AM
February 22, 2011
So Now What?
by Mark Ginocchio
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the current state of the NBA, it’s the players – most notably the “star” players – run the show, and if ‘Melo was dead set on going to the New York Knicks, the same way LeBron James and Chris Bosh were dead set on joining Dwayne Wade in South Beach – there’s no amount of powerpoint, Russian vodka our Jay Zee playa-ship that’s going to change that outcome.
In addition to repeatedly offering the sun and the moon for a player who maybe could have snuck this organization into a bottom playoff seed next year (if there even IS a next year), the front office has once again proven why the Nets will continue to be second-class citizens in the New York area. And assuming all of the main players in the front office and coaching staff remain the same, I don’t know how the stench will be erased. Yes, bravado and risk-taking is a nice change-of-pace from the Bruce Ratner years, but you can only lead with the chin so many teams before you’re left concussed, and needless to say, the 2010-11 New Jersey Nets have been officially knocked out.
What we’ve also learned is as rich as Mikhail Prokhorov is and as charming as he may appear in his 60 Minute interviews and press conferences, the average NBA superstar just does not care. He alone will never sell these players on this organization. The Nets need to stop getting involved in scenarios where the player’s hold all of the leverage. The current framework of this organization is not going to change anyone’s mind. If that’s the Blueprint for Greatness, on merits alone, quite frankly it stinks.
Posted by eric at 10:38 PM
As Nets lose out to (high-paying) Knicks in Anthony trade, Prokhorov takes some hits; goodbye, Devin Harris, face of EB-5 flackery?
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder wraps up coverage of the Nets' latest spectacular failure.
Well, Bruce Ratner has convinced Daily News columnist Denis Hamill (who conveniently forgot about affordable housing and permanent jobs) of the importance of the in-construction Barclays Center arena, it's a tougher sell for Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who lost to the Knicks (who paid dearly in a turf war with the Nets) in the trade for departing Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony.
Writes the Daily News' Mitch Lawrence, in Mikhail Prokhorov is all talk, no action, lets Carmelo Anthony slip through Nets' fingers to Knicks:
There's no other way to sum it up: Monday night was another bad night for the Nets under Prokhorov.
Just as last July was a bad month for the Nets' owner, when the Knicks got Amar'e Stoudemire and he got Travis Outlaw.
Prokhorov likes to tweak his counterpart, Garden chairman Jim Dolan. He likes to put up billboards across the street from the Garden, challenging the Knicks. He likes to send statements out of Moscow saying he doesn't want the Nets to become the Knicks, he wants them to become the Lakers.
Prokhorov is all talk. No action.
Under Prokhorov, the Nets haven't done a thing.
It's not entirely Prokhorov's fault. He goes to see superstars like James last July and Anthony in Los Angeles over the weekend and all he can give them is Brooklyn as an idea. There's nothing in Brooklyn now for the best players in the game to come to. Maybe when the arena is finished, that's when Prokhorov will be able to convert his vast fortune into some NBA superstars.
But not yet.
There's plenty more where that came from.
Posted by eric at 9:40 AM
February 7, 2011
A Peek Into the Nets' Future... Through a Locker Room Door
"NetIncome," the Leni Riefenstahl of the New Jersey Nets, was "permitted" to "take an exclusive peek inside the team's plans for what officials are calling 'best in class' locker room facilities."
Now there's an exclusive.
The design is a big deal for Mikhail Prokhorov, say associates and he doesn't want it to be just "state of the art".
"I would say best in class," is how Nets' technology consultant Milton] Lee describes the goal, borrowing the phrase that's printed on the back of his and every Net official's business cards. "Prokhorov and (Bruce) Ratner, because he's the majority owner of the arena, have been consistent in that they want this to be best in class."
NoLandGrab: "Best in class?" Maybe the 15-37 Nets should stamp that on the back of their jerseys. Or maybe Bruce Ratner should hang it on a banner on the Atlantic Center mall.
Posted by eric at 10:25 AM
January 28, 2011
Prok Speaks, Nets Listen: Owner’s Words Prove Prophetic As Brooklyn-Bound Franchise Heats Up
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli
The Eagle and Nets' coach Avery Johnson are impressed by the inspirational skills of team owner
Vince Lombardi Mikhail Prokhorov.
The Nets had lost six straight games, 11 of 12 and owned an ugly 10-31 record last week when Prokhorov pulled the plug on a potential blockbuster deal that would have landed Denver Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony in Newark, and eventually Downtown Brooklyn.
Prokhorov, no stranger to the art of the business deal, flew in from Russia last Wednesday and insisted the Nets would no longer play the foil in Denver’s on-again, off-again discussions regarding a potential 14-player swap.
He even hinted that the eight Nets players whose names had been mentioned throughout the laborious process were suffering from the strain and tension of not knowing where they’d be playing at any given moment.
While some scoffed at the notion of the Nets, who won all of 12 games last season and barely avoided the distinction of being the worst NBA team ever, playing poorly because of the trade rumors, recent history indicates Prokhorov was right on point.
The Nets have since gone on to win four of their last five contests — their best stretch since 2009 — including Wednesday night’s come-from-behind 93-88 triumph over visiting Memphis.
Buoyed by their owner’s refusal to let the Anthony talks drag out, the Nets have clearly re-focused their attention on the hardwood.
“Right now the spirit of our team is at an all-time high, just in terms of all the things we’re tried to implement and trying to change this culture,” noted coach Avery Johnson, the man charged with carrying out Prokhorov’s vision of an NBA championship contender.
NoLandGrab: Calm down, Coach. "An all-time high" might be a bit hyperbolic, given the Nets' 14-32 record. Their four recent wins came against teams with a combined 74-109 record, which, to be fair, represents a winning percentage a full 100 points better than that of Prokhorov's charges.
Posted by eric at 10:57 AM
January 21, 2011
Mikhail Prokhorov calling off pursuit of Carmelo Anthony trade shows that Nets have begun new era
NY Daily News
by Stefan Bondy
Mikhail Prokhorov sat in the press conference room at the Rock and owned it, just as he owns $17 billion worth in assets and a team of nondescript players unbecoming of his own personality. Just as he thought he could own Carmelo Anthony, with a simple pep talk and a new arena in Brooklyn.
Instead, his biggest moment as Net owner became a very public surrender, the waving of a white flag, as Prokhorov sold it as something far more proactive. Prokhorov is used to getting his way, but the business of the NBA is unlike anything he experienced while building an empire in post-communist Russia.
The players and their agents run the show here, at least until the collective bargaining agreement expires in July. And unfortunately for Prokhorov, the Nets still aren't the Knicks, no matter how much they trump up Brooklyn and distribute updates of the construction site in Atlantic Yards.
Posted by eric at 10:48 AM
January 20, 2011
No ’Melo, just more drama for Nets
by Adrian Wojnarowski
Mikhail Prokhorov can unfurl his portrait murals on the sides of Manhattan skyscrapers and marvel over the construction of his new basketball palace in Brooklyn. The Russian billionaire can promise championship parades within five seasons and employ exhaustive research to dispose of the Nets moniker and unwrap something new to call his franchise.
Only, there’s no scrubbing away the residue of decades of dysfunction and disarray with the fresh paint job. There’s no scrubbing it all away with carefully orchestrated news magazine profiles. Prokhorov isn’t the NBA’s most mysterious man, but one more clumsy, clueless creation of the commissioner’s endless failure to resurrect this franchise. All his money and clout and global reach, and yet Prokhorov and his posse look like one more incompetent ownership group killing time and brain cells until the lockout.
It was a stunning, senseless and perfectly fitting performance for Prokhorov on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center: As full-of-it grandstanding ploys go, Prokhorov was brilliant. Once he sensed the Nets couldn’t convince Carmelo Anthony to sign a contract extension, that his trip to the Rockies would be met with one more failure as owner, he made a dramatic declaration the Nets were done recruiting a deal and out of the running for Anthony.
This was no white knight sashaying into the States on a horse, but a basketball dummy on a donkey.
One by one, they’re all passing over Prokhorov: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh. Carlos Boozer and Rudy Gay. A-listers and B-listers, and now ’Melo couldn’t be sold on the owner’s Brooklyn vision. Prokhorov was right to never get on the plane to avoid the public humiliation of ’Melo rejecting the Nets, so he used the bully pulpit on Russian Cultural Night in Newark to play the part of the bad-ass owner jetting in to take control of his franchise.
From the man whose charisma and mystique brought you Travis Outlaw and Johan Petro on the free-agent market, here was the white flag of surrender two months too late.
’Melo is probably on his way to the New York Knicks, the Russian is headed back to Moscow and the Nets remain a punch line. All these billions of dollars, all these big, shiny ideas and tough talk, and it never, ever changes.
Same old sitcom, same old shameful scene. Same old Nets.
NoLandGrab: Unfortunately for Prokhorov, we're pretty sure his out clause expired when New York State handed the keys to Daniel Goldstein's home to Bruce Ratner.
Posted by eric at 11:33 AM
January 3, 2011
Nets' owner dead set on making team No. 1
by Al Iannazzone
We were getting ready to send flowers after reading the first three words of that headline, but it turns out this is just more pro-Prokhorov fluff.
Prokhorov, in an e-mail from Russia, said his mission is, "to build a championship team, a dynasty team."
"The great thing about sports is you can have an underdog that with time becomes a winner. We no longer have a losing mentality, and that is a huge step for the Nets.
But they still have a losing record, and at 9-25 are the fourth-worst team in the NBA.
After becoming owner last spring, Prokhorov guaranteed a playoff berth this year — doubtful — and championship within five years.
NoLandGrab: That "guarantee" wouldn't have been so meaningless if he'd guaranteed season-ticket holders their money back.
Posted by eric at 2:02 PM
December 26, 2010
Top 10 Most Influential New Jersey Sports Personalities of 2010
By Mike Vorkunov
- Mikhail Prokhorov- When a charismatic Russian oligarch takes over a team, it’s hard not to put him somewhere on here. The New Jersey Nets owners did plenty this year, although mostly symbolic than effectual. He allowed Nets fans to believe again when it seemed like his money and influence would land a big name free agent this summer. He certainly made things interesting by placing a billboard of himself and minority owner Jay-Z across from Madison Square Garden and sent Knicks owner Jim Dolan into a tizzy. Let’s not forget that while former Nets owner Bruce Ratner may have his slimy hands over the team’s future Brooklyn home and Atlantic Yards project, it was Prokhorov’s money that resuscitated it. The New York Observer put him No. 38 on its New York Power 150 list, 14 spots higher than New York’s actual NBA team owner. Considering all that, it’s hard to say nyet to him on this list.
Posted by steve at 9:48 AM
December 23, 2010
Prokhorov shoulders the burden of billions
The Moscow News
by Andy Potts
Being Oligarch-rich is a bitch.
With billions in the bank, an enviable status as Russia’s most eligible bachelor and a newly-purchased basketball team bouncing along in the glamorous NBA, Mikhail Prokhorov might seem to have it all.
But the Onexim president suffers as much of the rest of us – or so he would have us believe.
In an interview with Vedomosti, the man rated Russia’s second richest by Forbes lamented the woes of being wealthy in the midst of poverty.
“We must realise that to be rich in a poor country is a burden,” Prokhorov said.
NoLandGrab: Well, in fairness, Bruce Ratner did grub a few hundred million off him.
Posted by eric at 10:51 PM
Prokhorov Tells Russian Media Nets Have "Explosive Profit Potential"
In an interview published Thursday in Vedmosti, Russia's leading financial journal, Mikhail Prokhorov once again says the Nets will be NBA champions by 2015 and that his investment in the team and arena will be worth $700 million as soon as they move to Brooklyn in 2012. He also expects to earn an annual profit of $30 million in Brooklyn.
Prokhorov called the Nets a "project with explosive profit potential" noting, "We have a team, we're building the arena, we've hired professional management". He adds that he also holds an option to buy part (20%) of the overall Atlantic Yards. As for the current situation, the Nets' owner tries to divert the interviewer from their on-court problems by playfully noting they have just added draft picks!
NoLandGrab: As they say in Moscow, yada yada yada. And he forgot to reiterate his claim that they would make the playoffs this season.
Posted by eric at 6:26 PM
The Observer's Power 150: many Atlantic Yards connections, with Prokhorov somehow well ahead of Ratner
Atlantic Yards Report
The New York Observer has issued its "purely subjective" ranking of the city's Power 150, and it's worth a look to see how many intersections there are with Atlantic Yards.
In the top 50, Mayor Mike Bloomberg is #1, while Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver ranks #9, and Kathryn Wylde, CEO, Partnership for New York City, snags the #11 spot. Wylde testified for Atlantic Yards, while Department of City Planning Director Amanda Burden, at #30, played a peripheral role.
At #38 comes Mikhail Prokhorov, pictured with a Nets logo in the background; he "embodies a new Russian elite swarming the city." Well, billionaires embody things slightly differently than the rest of the world, but it's hard to think Prokhorov has more local juice than a developer like Bruce Ratner who's built relationships over decades.
Prokhorov's billboard partner, Jay-Z, ranks #46, cited for remaining "a relevant musician while commanding a growing empire worth almost half a billion dollars."
And Bob Diamond, President of Barclays, is #47, not for the arena naming rights deal, which is unmentioned, but because next year he will run the firm.
The second 50 includes Knicks (and Cablevision) owners the Dolans at #52 (not an AY link, just a comparison).
NBA Commissioner David Stern ranks #79 and is credited for having "built 28 new arenas," which kind of scants the ability of team owners to extract local subsidies.
In the third 50, Bruce Ratner is #109:
Real estate developer; minority owner, New Jersey Nets
The saga over the Atlantic Yards, Mr. Ratner's baby, is fit for a long Russian novel, but this year he won his battle against landowners. Construction is under way at the multibillion-dollar arena and residential center. Now if he can only get the Nets to move to Brooklyn.
Posted by eric at 9:41 AM
December 17, 2010
Roman Abramovich just a ‘poor’ relation to compatriot rolling into town
London Evening Standard
by Michael Weinstein
Forget William and Kate Londoners can hardly contain themselves in anticipation of the big March showdown between the Nets and Toronto Raptors, two teams battling for last place in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich will briefly lose his status as the richest Russian in town when the New Jersey Nets' Moscow contingent roll into London next March.
Abramovich (£7.1billion) trails Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov (£8.5bn) in the Forbes rich list, although neither can hold a candle to Russia's mightiest oligarch, Vladimir Lisin, the 32nd richest man in the world with a £10bn fortune.
Chris Charlier, the Nets chairman who represents Prokhorov on the boards of six Russian companies, vowed: “Mikhail will be there in London.
“We'll come in force from Moscow and there will be a big Russian contingent. We're still in the process of getting Russia's people to think of the Nets as Russia's team and London is a big part of getting that done.”
The former owner of CSKA Moscow's football and basketball set-up had to pass stringent NBA tests before he was voted in by his new peers in the summer.
NoLandGrab: If by "pass stringent NBA tests" they mean "prove that he wasn't Bruce Ratner, then by all means, yes he did.
Posted by eric at 10:51 AM
December 6, 2010
On the web, a ‘Nyet’ gain for Prokhorov
The Brooklyn Paper
by Gary Buiso
Who says there’s no “I” in team?
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov put a cyber-stamp on his New Jersey Nets this week, launching a “team” website in his native tongue — but the site also heavily promotes the owner and his business ventures back in the Motherland.
The fledgling website offers articles, interviews, schedule photos and video and ticket information. It does not reveal the current NBA standings, where the Nets are 6–15, good enough for the third-worst record in the league.
The current on-court struggles follow last season’s debacle, when the Nets lost a franchise high 70 games — but on the Russian-language website, the Nets are a league leader (albeit as one of the “most-socially savvy teams” in culling new fans through Facebook and Twitter).
Not these "fans," apparently.
In the borough’s southern Brooklyn Russian enclaves, basketball fans said the website is hardly a slam-dunk.
“I love basketball, but I won’t go on the site just because the team owner is Russian,” said Raisa Chernina, a Sheepshead Bay resident who heads the Be Proud Foundation, a Russian-American advocacy group.
And a Russian-language website is not something Brooklyn’s Russians immigrants even need, said Lena Makhnin, executive director of Brighton Beach Business Improvement District.
NoLandGrab: See it for yourself NetsRussia.com.
Posted by eric at 8:51 AM
November 22, 2010
Six Months Into "The Prokhorov Era", He and Nets Rebuilding...Patiently
"Net Income" continues his love affair with Mikhail Prokhorov.
It's been six months (and nine losses in 13 games) since Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets from Bruce Ratner after what seemed to be an interminable wait.
Prokhorov has invested or committed about a half billion in the Nets, when the amounts he paid for pieces of the team and arena ($200 million), agreed to pay off in corporate debt ($175 million), accepted in future losses ($60 million) and invested in arena infrastructure ($77 million) are tallied up. Then, there's the $4 million he's committed to break the lease at the IZOD Center and the millions he's invested in basketball operations.
Most of that money, say team insiders, has long been transferred or spent.
Is he getting his moneys' worth? In terms of product on the court, no, not yet. In terms of positive publicity for his worldwide businesses, oh yes. It's inconceivable that "60 Minutes", the New York Times Sunday Magazine or Bloomberg TV would have spent so much time on him if he was still just the gold and aluminum baron of Siberia. As he has said, it's the best business card in the world.
So how goes "The Prokhorov Era" for Nets fans? Tighten the straps on your hard hat. Lots of work left to do.
And while "The Rock" is a dramatic improvement over the Izod, the Nets rank 28th in raw attendance and 24th in percentage of seats filled...in spite of big discount deals with ticket re-sellers. Jay-Z has only been to one game. To make matters worse, the Knicks just had their most successful West Coast swing ever while the Nets had a frustrating, mediocre run in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. So much for the "Blueprint for Greatness".
Posted by eric at 8:55 AM
November 12, 2010
Prokhorov draws scorn in Russia for proposal to increase work week to 60 hours (!) and change labor contracts
Atlantic Yards Report
This is a bit reminiscent of Bruce Ratner's threat to cut Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower in half.
Even as he's getting good (if shallow) press in the United States for his "exotic" status as entrepreneur, ladies' man, and owner of the Nets pro basketball team, Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov is feeling a bit of heat at home for a proposal that seems so anachronistic there must be another agenda.
In Prokhorov's Shock Modernization, the Moscow Times reports:
On the eve of National Unity Day, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, or RSPP, sent its own unique gift to the country’s workers. Kommersant reported that RSPP had prepared draft amendments to the Labor Code to increase the workweek to 60 hours and replace standard work contracts — the most common type of contract among employees containing no fixed terms — with fixed-term contracts. Another innovation dreamed up by the RSPP’s human resources committee, headed by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, would give employers the right to act unilaterally to make changes to employment contracts “for economic reasons” and would reduce the period required for giving notice to employees that such changes are imminent from two months to one month.
Part of a feint?
In the Moscow Times, Boris Kagarlitsky, director of the Institute of Globalization Studies, suggests there may be some strategy afoot:
But it is possible that the proposal for a 60-hour week was intentionally leaked to reporters to first create a false panic — and then to take the idea off the table, presenting it as a “compromise” to labor groups. It could also have been intended to divert attention away from less controversial amendments to the Labor Code that would restrict the rights of employees — fixed-term contracts, for example — that they can now try to sneak through the Duma without any public discussion.
But the problem is that the public outrage has gone beyond whatever the RSPP anticipated.
NoLandGrab: Only 60 hours? Nets' CEO Brett Yormark works that many hours in a day. Just ask him.
Posted by eric at 9:37 AM
November 9, 2010
Talk of the Town: Prokhorov, at Snob party, demurs (but says in mag that he is not interested in politics)
Atlantic Yards Report
Rebecca Mead of the New Yorker attended the launch party, at a penthouse apartment at 200 Eleventh Avenue, of thes American debut of Mikhail Prokhorov's Snob magazine. She writes:
Among those present was Mikhail Prokhorov, who, being six feet eight inches tall, had the advantage of occupying a more congenial elevation. “I’m just a guest,” Prokhorov said, waving off further conversation as he stood in a corner, surrounded by diminutive satellites in suits. (The current issue of Snob features him in more voluble mode: in an eight-page Q. & A., he reveals that he does not know how to use a computer, that he is not interested in politics, and that he likes New York. “It’s perhaps the only city in the world where the energy reminds me of Moscow,” he says. “In all other major cities, I generally fall asleep.”)
Well, he may say he's not interested in politics, but, rest assured, those to whom he delegates--and partners like Bruce Ratner--will pick up the slack.
NoLandGrab: We would generally fall asleep at one of his lousy team's games, too, if not for the ceaselessly annoying canned noise.
Posted by eric at 10:18 AM
November 4, 2010
Prokhorov learning from Ratner, places item about mogul watching demolition of Goldstein's building (and eating at "nearby" Peter Luger)
Atlantic Yards Report
According to an item fed to NetsDaily editor Net Income (according to the Times Magazine "a 65-year-old New York-based television producer anxious to keep his old- and new-media identities separate"), Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov and a group of a dozen people on Saturday "watched quietly from a nearby vantage point" the demolition of 636 Pacific Street, the building housing Atlantic Yards opponent Daniel Goldstein's former condominium.
As the photo, from Prokhorov's Onexim Group hints, that "nearby vantage point" is the roof of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Center mall.
According to Mr. Income's triumphant report:
After spending about 20 minutes looking at the site and the construction plans, Prokhorov and the group went to lunch at the nearby Peter Luger steakhouse, where they dined on porterhouse, creamed spinach and cheesecake for dessert. There must have been some champagne too.
Looking for Luger
For those more familiar with Brooklyn, Peter Luger (B), which is in Williamsburg, is not exactly nearby the mall (A), which is in Fort Greene, or the Atlantic Yards site, which is in Prospect Heights.
Still, you can bet that Prokhorov media guru Ellen Pinchuk has been learning from Forest City Ratner consultant "dark genius" Joe DePlasco.
Posted by eric at 10:56 AM
October 28, 2010
The Times Gives Prokhorov a Sunday Feature (No Mention of Atlantic Yards)
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
The Times has a Sunday magazine feature story on Bruce Ratner's Nets/arena bailout partner Mikhail Prokhorov. We haven't read through it yet, but skimming reveals something rather astonishing: in 8,298 words, "Atlantic Yards" are two words that never appear. (There is also no mention that The New York Times Company and Prokhorov's partner Bruce Ratner were business partners in the construction of the company's new-ish midtown headquarters.)
Posted by eric at 11:38 PM
Money cleanses: what's missing from the Times's Prokhorov article (hint: whatever the Nets do, Prokhorov's already won)
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder runs through some of the things missing from The Times's puffy profile of Mikhail Prokhorov, including:
Any mention of Atlantic Yards, the project proposed and pursued by his business partner Bruce Ratner...
The recognition that the Times might disclose the newspaper company's business relationship with Ratner...
The realization that Prokhorov, like Ratner, might be beneficiary of some sweetheart deals...
Voices beyond Prokhorov regarding his super-swift path to wealth...
It's not about Nets' victories. Prokhorov, virtually unknown in America, is on the cover of the Times Magazine. He's already won.
Money changes everything? No, money cleanses everything.
Posted by eric at 11:31 PM
As Times Magazine buffs Prokhorov, Nets tickets in Newark go for pennies
Atlantic Yards Report
I'll have more in a bit on the more-hagiographic-than-not New York Times Magazine cover story on Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, but consider that even the oligarch's presence in Newark last night (where the Nets won their opener) didn't drive attendance.
From John Brennan in The Record's Meadowlands Matters blog, a piece headlined Tickets for sporting events at rock-bottom prices:
But for tonight's Nets-Detroit Pistons NBA regular-season opener — the first for the Nets in their temporary Prudential Center home in Newark — fans who know where to look online can find a $200 list-price ticket for $50, a $40 ticket for $10, or a $20 ticket for an amazing 47 cents.
In a follow-up, Brennan pointed out that Newark Mayor Cory Booker has tried to liken his city to Oklahoma City, which snagged a permanent team after hosting the New Orleans Hornets after Hurricane Katrina.
But the turnout, even with cheap tickets, was low:
The crowd was listed at 15,178, but at the Izod Center the Nets traditionally listed their crowd (which accounts for tickets distributed) about 2,500 higher than actual turnstile attendance (pretty typical in the NBA). So this crowd was not close to the 17,000 that Booker talked about beforehand.
Posted by eric at 11:22 PM
The Playboy and His Power Games
The New York Times
by Chip Brown
The Times devotes God-knows-how-many words to a profile of Mikhail Prokhorov without really getting to the root of anything. Here's the opening:
“Pretend you are putting a gun against my back,” said the Russian billionaire. We were standing in a small training room on the third floor of his house outside Moscow. Suddenly he pivoted, and any ideas I had of sprinting off with his wallet went poof. His loaded foot was poised to crush my knee. You had to wonder, Did he really need the full security detail that followed his chauffeured Mercedes around Moscow in a Land Rover?
The key was that your body had to be relaxed, he said. Not rigid. Not tense.
“You have to be soft.”
“You could have broken my leg.”
“Yes,” he said, “but in a very soft manner.”
NoLandGrab: Prokhorov might not be such a bad guy, 'cause while he just pretends, his business partner, Bruce Ratner, put a figurative gun to the head of Brooklynites and the ESDC gave him the bullets.
Posted by eric at 10:26 PM
October 27, 2010
Times takes optimistic look at Prokhorov as face of Nets, suggests trip to China was to recruit companies as sponsors (but what about EB-5 investors?)
Atlantic Yards Report
In Nets’ Top Attraction May Be Prokhorov, an article in tomorrow's [now today's] Sports section, the New York Times offers an optimistic take on the Nets' struggles: majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov "may end up being the face of the organization."
(I pointed out October 24 that the ESPN The Magazine portrayed Prokhorov as the face of the Nets, one of only four teams where players weren't front and center.)
The article states:
He has also moved fast to rebuild the team and has not shied away from the limelight. Since he took over in May, he has hired Avery Johnson as coach, Billy King as general manager and taken the Nets to Russia and China to help convince foreign companies to spend their money on the team.
Ah, but was the trip to China mainly to sign up sponsors, or was it to convince immigrant investors to get their green cards via the EB-5 program by buying into the "Brooklyn Arena and Infrastructure Project"?
Posted by eric at 3:21 PM
Nets’ Top Attraction May Be Prokhorov
The New York Times
by Ken Belson
More hard-hitting coverage of Mikhail Prokhorov from The New York Times.
The Knicks have had a lot of reason to cheer Timofey Mozgov, their new Russian center who had an impressive preseason and figures to play a prominent role on the team this season.
But Mozgov is not the only tall Russian involved in basketball around New York. Fans will likely see a lot of Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the new owner of the Nets, who has promised to turn last season’s 12-win team into a championship-winning club.
Prokhorov lives in Moscow, but plans to attend about a quarter of the Nets’ home games at the Prudential Center in Newark this season. That includes the first three games, against the Pistons on Wednesday, the Kings on Friday and LeBron James and the Miami Heat on Sunday.
Prokhorov will not sit courtside like Mark Cuban in Dallas. Instead, he will keep to his owner’s box, where he can survey his team, which cost him $200 million and includes a 45 percent stake in the Barclays Center, the Nets’ new home in Brooklyn.
Posted by eric at 12:19 PM
October 23, 2010
Meet Mikhail Prokhorov: Devourer of Worlds
The New York Observer
By Dan Duray
The Empire State Development Corporation, the tool of developer Bruce Ratner, used the power of eminent domain to benefit Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia's richest man. Here, he is converted to a comic book character. It's no surprise that he's a stand-in for a famous villain.
For its latest issue, ESPN The Magazine reached out to their new sister company Marvel to create a series of fake comic book covers representing all 30 teams of the NBA. The jokes range from topical to goofy, but one of the better ones depicts Lebron James walking away from his Cleveland jersey, mirroring an iconic Spider-Man moment.
But we thought we'd share the Nets one below. In it, the team's eccentric new owner Mikhail Prokhorov is depected as Galactus, the gigantic Fantastic Four villian who travels from galaxy to galaxy eating planets. His forerunner, the Silver Surfer, is played by Devin Harris, the team's captain and a lynchpin in the Russian oligarch's plans for planet Earth. And Brooklyn.
Posted by steve at 8:56 AM
October 12, 2010
From Matt Taibbi's "Is American Sports Ready for a Real Gangster?"
Atlantic Yards Report
Wrote Daily News Sports columnist Mike Lupica 10/10/10:
Matt Taibbi gives Mikhail Prokhorov more of a vetting in the current Men's Journal than David Stern ever did.
Indeed, considering Taibbi's pungent observations ("Is American Sports Ready for a Real Gangster?"), in retrospect, even the tough part of the 60 Minutes profile last March of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, now the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, was pretty gentle.
Consider the treatment of Prokhorov's remarkable rise; 60 Minutes reported:
In 1995, Prokhorov and [partner Vladimir] Potanin's bank won the equivalent of the Russian lottery: Kremlin leaders gave them what amounted to an insider's opportunity to buy one of the state's most valuable assets - a huge mining and metal operation called Norilsk Nickel, which is among the world's largest producers of nickel, copper and platinum.
They acquired it from the Kremlin in a so-called auction for the measly sum of a few hundred million dollars, in a process that even Prokhorov's business partner admitted wasn't perfect and probably not even legal under western standards. But it was legal in Russia.
Taibbi, in a Fox Business News interview promoting the article, called the process a scandal.
Auctions "shamelessly" rigged
Here's an excerpt from the article (not online), which offers a bit more context:
The auctions, at least by American standards, were shamelessly, transparently, hilariously rigged. The essence of the scam was the transfer of the state-controlled industrial jewels of the Soviet empire into the hands of a very small group of politically connected individuals. And the best example of them involved Norilsk Nickel... Prokhorov's bank, Oneximbank, helped run the auction, then got itself declared the winner after bidding $170 million to manage a 38 percent stake in a company then worth $1.2 billion. Irrelevant was the fact that another firm had bid twice as much.
The NBA vetting
Taibbi's take: "Who did the checking? Stevie Wonder?
NoLandGrab: "Irrelevant was the fact that another firm had bid twice as much?" Where have we heard that one before?
Posted by eric at 10:25 AM
October 11, 2010
Noting One Oddity, The Times, in Another, Neglects Obvious Explanations: Ratner’s EB-5 Green Cards Sale; A Reason For the Nets To Go To China, And. . .
Noticing New York
Why are the Nets going, as the article reports, to China and Russia? Though the article pronounces it odd that they are going abroad and then spends most of its time tendering possible explanations, it passes up taking a crack at the possible explanations that would seem to be the most logical, but perhaps also the most impertinent to mention.
Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report specifically mentions this particular Times sports story (“The Sports section, however, is all over the Nets' trip to China.”) in writing about how the Times has avoided reporting on the scandalous sale of green cards in China by Ratner and Prokhorov to finance their nets arena.
The sports section may be “all over the Nets' trip to China” except that it isn't reporting that the likely explanation as to why the Nets owners have made it a priority for the Nets to go to China is the EB-5 green cards the owners are selling to the Chinese, something the Times apparently doesn’t want to report about. Also not mentioned is that New York state and local government officials have been expecting to tag along with Ratner to sell the U.S. issued green cards with him in China.
We have a question for the Times: If, in their estimation, now is not the time to report on the EB-5 green card selling scandal and the dark not-so-secret back stories relating to Prokhorov’s wealth, then when will those things be discussed in the gray lady’s pages? Maybe it is just that the Times reporters, sports reporters and others, are not able to read Chinese. The answer then would be to hire a Chinese translator which is what Mr. Oder did and the reason he has consequently been able to keep breaking new gripping stories in his series about the EB-5 scandal.
What are New Yorkers left to do when the Time sidelines itself this way? Here's one thing we can tell you: If, as the Times reports, “The Nets are creating a Russian-language Web site” then New Yorkers are all going to have to hope that Mr. Oder opens his wallet up one more time for another translator, a Russian one. If he doesn’t, with the Times asleep, we will probably miss out on some major news stories that matter a great deal to our city’s local politics.
Posted by eric at 11:37 AM
Prokhorov Flies Nets to Moscow for Pep Talk on Global Ambitions
by Yuriy Humber
Speaking of fluff, Bloomberg reports on the Nets' "global ambitions" while, like The New York Times, ignoring Bruce Ratner's global green cards-for-cash scam.
Nets point guard Devin Harris said he wants to learn more about the owner and how he earned his fortune early on in life, Harris said.
“It’s not just that he’s Russian,” Harris said in an interview. “He’s proven to be the best in pretty much anything that he’s touched and he has a feel for the game. Those things are recipes for success.”
Prokhorov’s approach to business and marketing drive could help the Nets players as much off-court and in their game, said Nets guard Harris.
“We’re all trying to put together our own private entities as well as put together a global icon,” Harris said. “And I’m just curious about how his mind works.”
NoLandGrab: The article incorrectly hews to the original claim of a 20-year, $400-million naming-rights deal between Barclays and Ratner, which for almost a year now has been exposed as being worth just half that amount.
Posted by eric at 11:20 AM
September 23, 2010
Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi Pulls Back the Mikhail Prokhorov Mask
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Speaking of Mikhail Prokhorov...
Yesterday on Don Imus's Fox Business talk show Rolling Stone's no-nonsense reporter Matt Taibbi had a few pointed things to say about Russian oligarch, Nets and Barclays Center owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
"It's unbelievable to me [Prokhorov is] being celebrated as this great guy," Taibbi said. Taibbi is no stranger to the Russian scene or Prokhorov as he used to be a journalist in that country after the dissolution of the USSR.
Taibbi explained that Prokhorov's wealth was created by fixed, sweetheart deals, much like Bruce Ratner's. He also said what most observers have noted previously—that NBA commissioner David Stern basically looked the other way when his sports league "vetted" Prokhorov.
Watch the clip below:
NetsDaily, Matt Taibbi rips into Mikhail Prokhorov
The impression I was left with by Taibbi is that Prokhorov is a lucky opportunist at best, a sleazy industrialist at worst who's image here in America has been carefully crafted and calibrated via the media.
NoLandGrab: In which case, he upholds perfectly the tradition of recent Nets owners.
Posted by eric at 9:52 AM
Who wants to be a snob?
The BSS Report
Or, more accurately, S.N.O.B., which is apparently a Russian acronym for "accomplished, independent, educated, and thriving."
Of course, once I start mentioning the Russians, the only accomplished, independent, educated, and thriving Russian I care about (since Maria Sharapova is still dating THE MACHINE) is Mr. Mikhail "Mike" Prokhorov. What has he done this time?
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is bringing his $100 million Snob media project to the United States as he seeks to attract a "global audience" for the New Jersey Nets basketball team.
Snob magazine, aimed at "the elite of Russia," will start selling in the United States on Wednesday at a cover price of $8 and without translation into English, Prokhorov said. Snob also runs an invitation-only social network and live events.
Stellar. Say what you want about the New Jersey Nets offseason, but you can't say their owner isn't trying. How amazing that Bruce Ratner is now a distant nightmare.
NoLandGrab: Distant nightmare? If you live anywhere near Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, Bruce Ratner will be an ever-present nightmare for the next, oh, thirty years or so.
Posted by eric at 9:46 AM
September 20, 2010
Did Team Prokhorov Once Want an NBA Franchise in Moscow?
The Nets fan blog reports that Mikhail Prokhorov had hoped to start the wheels turning on a Moscow-based NBA franchise back in 2006.
When the NBA announced it was going to open a Russian office--and word got out that the Nets will hold an open practice in Moscow, Prokhorov advisor Sergey Kushchenko told Russian media that the NBA has long wanted to do business in Russia, even before Mikhail Prokhorov bought the Nets.
He would know. Kushchenko is the man who tried to put the earlier deal together. It's an interesting bit of NBA history, one that indicates that the Nets were Prokhorov's Plan "B". Plan "A" was making CSKA Moscow a global brand and maybe even an NBA franchise!
Posted by eric at 9:31 AM
August 1, 2010
Mikhail Prokhorov, Stereotype Buster
New York Observer
By Sam Levin
This gloss of an in article in Forbes Russia talks about the Nets owner's love of Brooklyn's "unique energy", his hopes for a profitable basketball team and how his dislike of vodka breaks a stereotype. The article ends with some of Prokhorov's business philosophy.
“When you’re talking about the business of sports, you can’t leave out passion and love,” he says.
How does he handle conflicting interests of love and money? Self-discipline!
“In this business in particular, I need to be maximally careful, so that my passion and love for basketball don’t interfere with my business reasoning. It has to do with balancing my own internal interests and here I will be very self-disciplined.
NoLandGrab: Some self-discipline on the part of the city and state might have prevented the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize a Russian oligarch.
Posted by steve at 8:36 AM
July 29, 2010
Prokhorov on cover of Russian Forbes, spinning team purchase; in Letters page of USA Today, saluting LeBron James
Atlantic Yards Report
The Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, is on the cover of Forbes Russia’s August “Stars and Money ” issue, which contains a subtitle: “Mikhail Prokhorov and American Basketball: Who Will Be the Winner?”
Note that Prokhorov claims he bought the Nets for $200 million, which is inaccurate, as it refers only to the direct cash payment. As summarized by Sports Business Journal via NetsDaily in March:
As reported, Prokhorov's Onexim Group has agreed to put down $200 million in cash; assume about $180 million in franchise debt from Forest City Enterprises, Bruce Ratner's parent company; eat $60 million in costs--including losses--sustained while the team remains in New Jersey; and purchase up to $106 million in junk bonds needed to finance Barclays Center infrastructure, for a total of around $550 million.
In the end, Prokhorov put less money down, offering a $75.8 million loan rather than, as reported, buying $106 million in taxable bonds.
In USA Today
Prokhorov is wobbly enough in English basketball lingo to have described draft pick Derrick Favors as a "powerful forward" (rather than "power forward"), but that hasn't stopped him--or his handlers--from working the Prokhorov message in print.
Maybe it's an effort to position the Nets to snag future free agents, or maybe it's just a way to keep his name in the paper. After all, one of the Nets' biggest selling points remains its owner.
From USA Today, Roundup: NBA team owner backs LeBron James' decision:
The players are signed, the "Decision" is made, but the passions around this year's extraordinary class of NBA free agents refuses to die down. What surprises me is the amount of negative commentary directed at the three top free agents (especially LeBron James) who decided to play on the same team and to create a great franchise together. Of course, any club owner dreams of having those players, including me, but all questions of how the announcements were made aside, I respect their choice, and no one has the right to judge them.
NoLandGrab: Prokhorov's POV on James is quite magnanimous, but when one of your team's "biggest selling points remains its owner," your team's in trouble.
Posted by eric at 10:18 AM
July 28, 2010
Prokhorov: Nets Will Be Worth $1 Billion by 2015
Looks like Mikhail Prokhorov is playing fantasy basketball.
The cover of August's Forbes Russia shows a tall man in a suit holding a basketball, and asks, "Mikhail Prokhorov and American basketball: Who Will Be the Winner?"
In the article, "I told America I come in peace," Prokhorov goes over much the same ground he has in press conferences and interviews with U.S. media, but talks more about the team's financial prospects.
The Nets' owner says the team will continue to lose money in Newark but the team's move to Brooklyn, plus his ambitions to create a dynasty, will make the Nets both profitable and valuable, suggesting the team will be worth $1 billion and earn an annual profit of $20 million.
NoLandGrab: To put that figure in perspective, Forbes estimates the value of the Los Angeles Lakers, who won 45 more games than the Nets this past season (and the NBA title), at $607 million. Prokhorov is "guaranteeing" a Nets championship by 2015, as well.
Posted by eric at 10:26 AM
July 16, 2010
Prokhorov Preaches Patience: Nets Owner Moves to Plan B After Failing To Land Big Free Agents
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by John Torenli
Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who took the tri-state area by storm just over two months ago when he was officially named owner of the New Jersey (soon-to-be-Brooklyn) Nets, had a new message for diehard fans this week.
“Be patient. Support our team. We will win for sure,” Prokhorov insisted Tuesday during his state-of-the-franchise address at the Four Seasons in New York.
After failing to land one of the prized free agents on the team’s July wish list — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — Prokhorov didn’t panic and sign a player his management group was less than enamored with in the hopes of pacifying a loyal but frustrated fan base.
Instead, he simply went to one of several back-up plans the organization had in place, just in case the “Big Three” turned down his monster pitch.
“Really I’m very happy with how things have played out,” Prokhorov said calmly. “Just after my meeting on the first of July, I had a different anticipation. I have predicted a lot of what has gone on. We have Plan A, we have Plan B and we have Plan C and even Plan D.
NoLandGrab: OK, it's one thing for a reporter to mindlessly boost a team, but it's a completely different thing to lose one's grip on reality. Does John Torenli really believe that somewhere the Nets had a plan to acquire four guys nobody's ever heard of, and hire as their president the executive who built the Sixers into the sixth-worst team in the NBA, one that missed the playoffs last season by 14 games? That sounds more like Plan W.
Posted by eric at 10:27 AM
Mikhail Prokorov [sic] Faces Off Against the Knicks
This story bears a striking resemblance to one posted yesterday by Capital New York, though it's slightly different, as if it got run back and forth through Google Translator a couple times.
But one thing definitely got lost in translation.
It’s hard to imagine Prokhorov doesn’t believe it. He has the assets to make it possible and hasn’t stalled in beginning the process. In a first step, he moved the Nets to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards for the upcoming season, a geographic change that will have demographic effects.
NoLandGrab: If that's the case, either Bruce Ratner is going to put on the most spectacular high-speed construction job ever, or the Nets will be playing their home games on the Dean Street playground. A safer bet is that the Nets will be calling Newark's Prudential Center home for a couple seasons, at least.
Posted by eric at 10:15 AM
July 15, 2010
Mikhail Prokhorov Says One Thing, Nets Do the Opposite
Former Sixers G.M. latest curious move in Prokhorov's first summer as owner
NBC New York
by Josh Alper
There's no doubt that the addition of Mikhail Prokhorov to the roll call of team owners makes the American sports landscape a more interesting one. We're starting to have some second thoughts about how much he means any of the things he says, however.
Case in point is an interview that Prokhorov gave to Nets Daily on Monday while he was flitting through the sky on his Gulfstream. The first question had to do with the departure of team president and general manager Rod Thorn and the search for a replacement who would help the Nets fulfill Prokhorov's promise of a championship within five years. The owner professed to be in no rush to hire a new man because, as a new owner, "I need to touch and smell everything myself and this takes some time."
Fast forward to Wednesday when the Nets announced that former Sixers G.M. Billy King would be joining the team and assuming Thorn's duties. Maybe rush translates differently in Russian?
His job title is general manager so Prokhorov may still be taking his time to find a president but that would appear to be, in one form or another, a semantic distinction that won't make much difference if King proves to be the same guy who ran the Sixers into the ground after Larry Brown left the team. The team ran through numerous coaches, spent barrels of money on mediocre players and generally resembled the Isiah Thomas Knicks without the same media spotlight.
NoLandGrab: Plan D?
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Smells Bad
Josh Alper at NBC-New York scratches his head about Mikhail Prokhorov.
So do we.
Does this guy take anything seriously? If he treats free agency and his franchise this way, imagine what kind of humorous stylings he'll come up with when Atlantic Yards doesn't provide any affordable housing.
Posted by eric at 9:36 AM
Villain-off: Prokhorov, Dolan and the end of a basketball monopoly
Capital New York
by Josh Curtis
Two weeks ago, while the Knicks were waiting with clammy hands for The Decision, the Nets unveiled a mammoth, 225’ X 95’ billboard depicting none other than Prokhorov himself standing alongside Nets minority owner and New York hip-hop legend Jay-Z. Above their heads read, “The blueprint for greatness.” But this was different from billboards past. It wasn’t commissioned to preside over a Holiday Inn on some gray New Jersey highway in the middle of nowhere. Instead, it was tacked up at the corner of 34th Street and Eighth Avenue, a stone’s throw from Madison Square Garden. Nets CEO Brett Yormark has said that the location was a coincidence. It wasn’t. It was a gauntlet thrown down in earnest by a man who has every intention of making good on his threat to dethrone the Knicks.
Of course, it’s no secret that the Knicks have been bad for a while. But few seem to appreciate just how bad. Amazingly, the Knicks have now endured more consecutive losing seasons than any major New York-area sports franchise in the last 50 years. More than the Jets. More than the Mets. More than the Nets. More than the Islanders. More than everyone. Nine in a row. A decade has been flushed down the toilet. This is epic stuff.
And what the Knicks have begun to learn this off-season—and will doubtless continue to learn—is that being so bad for so long isn’t just depressing; it’s dangerous. It costs you players, yes, but more importantly, as Prokhorov knows, it costs you fans.
If that erosion isn’t yet obvious in the case of the Knicks, it’s because, unlike the Jets—and every other major New York sports franchise—the Knicks haven’t had in-state competition since 1977. For almost 33 years, they have enjoyed a virtual monopoly on the sporting affections of New York City in a way that no other New York team has. But that will end as soon as 2012, when the Nets plan to set up shop in the city’s most populous borough—and when the value of the Knicks’ brand may be at or near its all-time nadir.
By that time, Prokhorov expects to be riding high. "If everything goes as planned, I expect to be in the playoffs next season . . .and championship in one year minimum and maximum in five years,” he told Nets season-ticket holders in May.
Maybe there’s no need to worry. Maybe he's exactly as crazy as he seems.
Jim Dolan had better hope so.
NoLandGrab: If everything goes as planned? That must be Plan C, since the Nets didn't land the top pick in the draft, nor any free agent of note, a showing on that front even worse than the Knicks'.
The Nets are the only sports team we know of that has had to resort to putting its owner (and his celebrity-fractional-owner sidekick) on a billboard for want of a marketable star.
Photo: Marianne O'Leary via flickr
Posted by eric at 9:11 AM
July 13, 2010
The Nets draw blanks, but that's OK for Prokhorov and Ratner
Atlantic Yards Report
The Record's Al Iannazzone sums up, in an article headlined Nets look to solve puzzle, the team's positioning:
The Nets wanted Mike Krzyzewski or Jeff Van Gundy to be their coach. Tom Thibodeau was their third choice. The Nets hired Avery Johnson.
They hoped their 25-percent chance of winning the draft lottery would get them the top pick in the draft and John Wall. They took Derrick Favors third.
The Nets wanted team president Rod Thorn to continue to guide the basketball department. Thorn is resigning at the end of the week, with former Sixers’ president Billy King a candidate to replace him.
In free agency, they hoped – and wanted to believe – Mikhail Prokhorov’s money and global vision and Jay-Z’s appeal would result in LeBron James and other superstars coming to the Nets.
They wound up with Travis Outlaw, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow...
Well, for team fans, that's not so hot, but Prokhorov has already reaped enormous good publicity from his purchase and media tour.
And former majority owner Bruce Ratner and his partners at Forest City Enterprises are no longer saddled with the team's losses.
So some bad luck likely doesn't hurt them as much.
NoLandGrab: As for Brooklyn residents unlucky enough to live anywhere near Ratner's Atlantic Yards site, their bad luck will cause them pain for many years to come.
Posted by eric at 11:41 AM
July 3, 2010
The many faces of Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov (and a presidential endorsement?)
Atlantic Yards Report
Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov can be a friendly, charming guy, sure, and he's offering (with the help of Jay-Z and, oh, lots of public assistance) free agent LeBron James big bucks, but check his reaction at the draft lottery to see the steel.
And notice how the picture of Prokhorov with President Barack Obama, appearing on the Nets web site, sure looks like it's being used, despite a ban, "in any commercial or political materials... that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House."
Most of this blog post is made up of pictures and videos. Click on the link for the full experience.
Posted by steve at 7:50 AM
LeBron Who? New York’s Apartment Brokers Want Prokhorov
Wall Street Journal
LeBron James has reportedly been apartment hunting in Manhattan. But for the city’s real estate brokers, there may be a bigger client on the market.
As The Journal’s Craig Karmin reports, New York real estate brokers are drooling over the prospect of showing palatial pads to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, 45, the owner of the New Jersey Nets.
The Russian billionaire has made his presence known in Brooklyn as well–albeit in a different way. His firm invested $200 million in the Atlantic Yards development project, which includes the stadium the Nets expect to call home in 2012.
Posted by steve at 7:45 AM
July 2, 2010
Nets Owner to Operate From Seagram Offices
The Wall Street Journal
by Craig Karmin
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov recently completed his first Manhattan property deal since becoming owner of the New Jersey Nets, taking office space in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue.
His private investment firm, the Moscow-based Onexim Group, has agreed to lease about 2,500 square feet on the 26th floor of the famous building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, said a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Prokhorov plans to use the space as his business office when he's in town and it will serve as an office for the Nets basketball team, this person said.
NoLandGrab: Surely that can't be right. The owner of the future Brooklyn Nets would want to have his office in Brooklyn, wouldn't he? Maybe in the flagship new Atlantic Yards office tower that Bruce Ratner will start building any day now. Oh, wait...
Crain's NY Business, NYC office construction at near standstill
Building starts in first four months of 2010 fall to lowest level in years, with 99% of the work coming in alterations and renovations.
New York City office construction is at a virtual standstill, according to the New York Building Congress, a nonprofit group that represents the construction industry. However, there are signs of a possible recovery in coming years.
According to the group's review of multiple data sources, the value of office construction starts sank to a mere $163 million in the first four months of 2010. At that pace, the value of starts for the year as a whole would come to just $489 million, compared with $2.6 billion in 2009 and $1.3 billion in 2008.
Currently, the majority of office construction work is in the alterations and renovations category, rather than new ground-up construction. For the first four months of 2010, alterations accounted for more than 99% of all construction starts as measured by value—$162.3 million, versus $700,000 in new construction. In 2009, alterations accounted for $1.7 billion of the $2.6 billion in office starts.
While the data doesn't suggest an imminent turnaround, a review of historical construction data, as well as recent employment and leasing trends, suggest that the office market outlook will be one of gradual absorption of available space, potentially followed by renewed expansion, for the next few years.
NLG: But let's not let this news stop the Empire State Development Corporation from claiming the full Atlantic Yards project will be completely built in 10 years.
Posted by eric at 9:43 AM
July 1, 2010
Intense Russian Advertecture Haunts MSG
MIDTOWN— Nets-owning Russian supervillain (and Atlantic Yards savior) Mikhail Prokhorov bought billboard space across the street from Madison Square Garden to tout his partnership with Jay-Z and mess with Knicks execs' minds. Intimidation is an art in the former USSR, and come to think of it, so this ridiculously huge mural should also probably hang in a museum one day. Go Nyets? [Pic via Jeff Baum's Tumblr]
NoLandGrab: Jay-Z has been working on his Nets' greatness blueprint for five years, with less-than-great results.
Posted by eric at 9:55 AM
June 25, 2010
Brooklyn pastor, congregation protest at Garden, ask NBA to fully vet Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov
NY Daily News
by Matt Gagne
Pastor Clinton Miller of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn and dozens of congregation members protested in front of the Garden Thursday afternoon to express their disappointment in the NBA's appointment of Mikhail Prokhorov as the Nets' majority owner.
Wearing a grey pinstriped suit with a gold tie, Miller drew the attention of bystanders and passersby on the corner of 33rd St. and 7th Ave. as he called for the league to investigate the business dealings of Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who has stirred controversy for his alleged ties to Zimbabwe's repressive government.
"We're not here to say he shouldn't be the owner of the Nets," said Miller, who added that he hoped Thursday's protest would lead to a meeting with Stern. "We seek clarification and clarity on the business ties of Mikhail Prokhorov and his connections to Zimbabwe. If we don't get clarification, who can outwardly support an NBA franchise that comes to our borough?"
As NBA fans lined up in anticipation of the NBA Draft Thursday night, Rev. Clinton Miller spoke to a small crowd about what he called the NBA's "double standard" for owners and players and how a company that Mr. Prokhorov partially owns has alleged ties to Zimbabwe, a country the U.S. holds sanctions against.
Some of those gathered held signs with slogans like "NBA DAVID, GET STERN WITH THE OWNERS" and "DID THE NBA REALLY VET THE NET(s)?"
Attending the protest was Daniel Goldstein, the longtime holdout who lived in the Nets arena footprint until he finally sold his apartment to arena developer Bruce Ratner earlier this year.
"I think that the NBA is playing with fire in that they looked the other way and didn't fully investigate Prokhorov because they are desperate for the money he is bringing to the Nets and I think it's going to burn them in the end," Mr. Goldstein told the Observer at the protest.
Posted by eric at 10:28 AM
June 15, 2010
Prudential Center tour might get Mikhail Prokhorov thinking Nets belong in Newark -- long-term
by Steve Politi
Mikhail Prokhorov got his first look yesterday at the Prudential Center in Newark, the Nets' interim home for at least the next two years.
Maybe there is a very good reason his new partners, the ones who needed his billions to make their boondoggle Brooklyn project a reality, decided to wait so long to take the oligarch to the Rock.
Maybe they didn’t want him to see it.
Prokhorov isn’t the second richest man in Russia for making poor business decisions. You had to wonder, as he walked through the pristine building and shot 3-pointers with the city’s charismatic mayor, if the thought at least popped into his sizable noggin.
I’m paying how many rubles to build a new arena in Brooklyn when this place is already here?!
Posted by eric at 9:53 AM
June 3, 2010
Talking Point: The Angry Buddhist takes a stroll on the boardwalk
by Carl Rosenstein
I walked down the boardwalk to the Russian Sector where the buzz is over their newest homeboy, megalomaniac Brooklyn Nyet owner Mikhail D. Prokhorov — Nyet worth $14 billion. Just what our town needs, another tumid billionaire. Our billionaire mayor had him over for breakfast. Afterward he was ushered around town, including a visit to the new billionaire Steinbrenner Stadium, scandalously funded with $300 million in public money. This was apparently to show Prokhorov just how easy it is to rip off the public coffers, as will be done in suit for the construction of his Atlantic Yards basketball-arena-office-and-condo development.
The Atlantic Yards plan was opaque enough and without a semblance of participatory democracy when it was billionaire Bruce Ratner’s alone. But now for taxpayers to subsidize this Russian plutocrat and playboy raises the level of arrogance and contempt toward the public to where it would make Robert Moses blush. James Dolan, the billionaire owner of the Knicks and Cablevision, has never blushed about Madison Square Garden’s property-tax-free status dating back to 1982 that has cost the city more than $300 million to date. “Off with their heads.”
Public records on Mr. Prokhorov are scarce and incomplete and the NBA accepted a certain amount of ambiguity. David E. Hoffman, the author of “The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia,” said that Mr. Prokohorov emerged from a business climate that has “no rule of law, a lot of shadiness, a lot of violence, a lot of coercion.” Welcome to Crooklyn, Mikhail, you’ll fit right in.
Posted by eric at 8:54 AM
June 2, 2010
Getting To Know New Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov
Sometimes, the fake news seems less outlandish than the real news. Case in point:
Since buying the New Jersey Nets, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has become a media fascination. Onion Sports takes a closer look at the man:
• Bought Nets after being impressed by Jayson Williams' killing ability
• Feels that owning an NBA basketball team is good for his cover
• We're just going to go ahead and guess that he has a yacht you could land a helicopter on
• "You like ride in tank? We go for ride in tank! The girls, they also come! Is make fun, yes? Ha!"
• Also owns controlling interest in 80 percent of Russia's nuclear arsenal
• Just checked on that yacht and helicopter thing, and sure enough, we called it
Photo: The Onion
Posted by eric at 9:17 PM
May 31, 2010
The billionaire Nets owner and the creation (his creation, actually) of a new kind of New York Russian.
New York Magazine
by Michael Idov
When Mikhail Prokhorov—gangly, boyish, 45, and a billionaire seventeen times over—announced his purchase of the New Jersey Nets and a majority stake of their yet-unbuilt arena at the Atlantic Yards, he leaped into the city’s collective consciousness with a speed unusual for any foreigner, let alone a Russian. The Nets are not a trophy skyscraper, whose ownership ultimately matters only to the kind of people who keep track of trophy skyscrapers. They are a ticket to instant popular-culture importance. By becoming the first foreign owner of an NBA team, Prokhorov simultaneously established himself as a major figure in one of the world’s most glamorous businesses (in the world capital of the sport, no less) and a central player in New York’s biggest real-estate drama after ground zero. The scale of his trick didn’t really hit home until a May 19 breakfast photo op with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Jay-Z: a perfectly orchestrated tableau of New York relevance.
Prokhorov’s interest in the Nets appears sincere enough. His father was a Soviet sports official, and Prokhorov is the head of the Russian Biathlon Union (he attended the Vancouver Olympics in that capacity). He played basketball himself in high school—because he was six-eight, it was practically an imperative—and invested in Moscow’s CSKA professional team before turning his attention westward. Prokhorov has already floated a $12 million to $15 million offer to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, openly plans to court LeBron James and other top free agents, and during his recent visit to the city promised to bring the team a “championship in five years.” He also hopes to raise the sport’s profile back in Russia and perhaps groom future stars there.
And yet buying the Nets and their arena was clearly a real-estate play as well. Prokhorov had already established himself as a major figure in the New York property market before the Atlantic Yards deal. In 2008, after developer Harry Macklowe defaulted on a $513 million loan from Deutsche Bank AG, the super-liquid Prokhorov swooped in and offered to buy the Park Avenue site in question for $250 million. “Guys like Prokhorov,” says a source who’s seen the bid, “are always looking to get in at opportunistic prices. They make extremely low offers that also happen to be all cash, which locals don’t do.” By the time Prokhorov turned his attention to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, the project was in almost as much trouble as Macklowe’s. Only the infusion of Russian cash raised it from a coma.
Idov's closing paragraph:
Have I sold out to Prokhorov? Sure I have. And not just by joining his club or working for his magazine. Simply by writing these lines, I’m helping him accomplish his trick by promoting the group he’s so bent on creating. But then I think of that picture of Prokhorov with Mayor Bloomberg and Jay-Z, and it brings to mind a similar photo, one that I apparently committed to memory. It’s a seventies shot of Baryshnikov lolling on a Studio 54 couch, sandwiched between Steve Rubell and Mick Jagger. In most respects, Prokhorov and Baryshnikov couldn’t be more different. But seeing the two Russians flanked by such iconic New York figures had the same effect on me. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit—maybe even a little snobby. But both pictures helped make me feel like I belong in New York, like my life, and those of my countrymen, is bigger somehow than it was back home. Isn’t that why we all seem to end up here?
Well, Idov and his Russian-American peers may feel the connection, but others may feel a tad bit of dissonance. Baryshnikov rose through stupendous talent and drive.
Prokhorov as New Yorker
Prokhorov has brains, talent and (clearly) drive, but his vast wealth tracks back significantly to his insider's deal to buy Norilsk Nickel, a process a prominent Russian journalist described to 60 Minutes as "rigged." (Without that deal, he wouldn't have been in a position to make a killing when he sold his shares.)
In buying into the Atlantic Yards project--80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena operating company--Prokhorov also gains from an insider's real estate deal.
Maybe that makes him a certain kind of New Yorker, as well.
Posted by eric at 9:06 AM
May 26, 2010
For 48 Hours, an Oligarch Turns on the Charm
The New York Observer
By Irina Aleksander
This piece follows Prokhorov on his whirlwind media tour while in New York. Totally missing is any real analysis as statements are presented at face value.
For example, the following says that there may be "misinformation" regarding Prokhorov, but doesn't say what that information might be, unless it's the impression made by someone who is supposed to be endearing despite some less-than-wholesome interests.
Mr. Prokhorov was in town for 48 hours that, if spent properly and efficiently, would warm the press and thereby the public to the mysterious Russian who just a week prior to his visit was approved as the principal owner of the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets. There was also, perhaps, some misinformation out there. In March, 60 Minutes aired a segment in which Mr. Prokhorov showed off his Kalashnikov rifles, his bars of solid gold and his dancing nightclub girls to an overwhelmed Steve Kroft.
"He is a macho man in Russia, and that is how macho men show off," said Janna Bullock, the prominent, Russian-born Manhattan real estate developer. Ms. Bullock and Mr. Prokhorov belong to the same social clubs back in Mocow. "No one told him how to behave, that America is not as aggressive, not as sexual. But it is very endearing, actually. It's like a child showing off his toys."
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also makes an appearance with the oligarch.
... At 4 p.m., he joined Mr. Ratner and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz in the Atlantic Center mall in Brooklyn, overlooking the stadium construction site that would become his "favorite place in New York." "I asked him just one important thing, that he bring a winning team to Brooklyn," Mr. Markowitz said. "He looked me in the eye and said he would try his best and was confident he could do so-which sounds to me like the Brooklyn attitude right there!"
NoLandGrab: This "I intend to" attitude seems much more like an ESDC attitude than a Brooklyn attitude.
A New York Observer reporter gives a thumbs-up to the Mikhail Prokhorov show. From a piece headlined For 48 Hours, an Oligarch Turns on the Charm:
Mr. Prokhorov was in town for 48 hours that, if spent properly and efficiently, would warm the press and thereby the public to the mysterious Russian who just a week prior to his visit was approved as the principal owner of the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets.
...During the press conference, [p.r. consultant] Ms. [Ellen] Pinchuk pursed her lips and picked at her fingers each time her client was asked tough questions: his business dealings in Zimbabwe; the team's unfortunate record (12-70); will it continue to bleed money ($42.2 million in the recent fiscal year)? By the end, her water glass was empty. Mr. Prokhorov, however, performed expertly, answering each question with a joke and giving the sort of show that kept the reporters busy taking notes.
Next came an unexpected afternoon meeting with a 28-year-old Brooklyn resident named Vinnie Rotondaro. Vinnie had just graduated from Columbia J-school, with five bylines at a blog called the Brooklyn Ink.
...It was, in other words, another brilliant, premeditated publicity move that neatly tied up Mr. Prokhorov's two-day charm offensive.
Um, Prokhorov's "brilliant, premeditated publicity move[s]" would not have succeeded had the press considered that the money he can spend on the team and arena (and p.r.) is money he didn't have to spend on the arena, thanks to significant public subsidies, tax-exempt bonds, and the giveaway of arena naming rights.
The episode--in which the press pronounces on public relations efforts instead of analyzing the issues at hand--recalls the New York Times's infamous "modern blueprint" article from 10/14/05, headlined To Build Arena in Brooklyn, Developer First Builds Bridges:
But from whatever viewpoint, the project's seemingly inexorable movement suggests that Mr. Ratner is creating a new and finely detailed modern blueprint for how to nourish - and then harvest - public and community backing for a hugely ambitious development that is expected to provide more than nine million square feet of apartments, offices, stores and hotel rooms, as well as the arena, in the middle of a populous, cantankerous and often sharply divided city.
Posted by steve at 9:47 AM
May 21, 2010
NBA's Nets Sold to Russian Billionaire
by Dave Zirin
We've been saying this for some time: pro sports is the next economic "bubble."
With a bank account estimated at in excess of $13 billion, there is little Mikhail Prokhorov wants that he cannot have. But the ease with which Russia’s richest man bought the NBA’s New Jersey Nets speaks volumes about the ailing financial state of the league.
By striking a deal for $200 million (as well as assuming $180 million in team debt) in exchange for an 80 percent stake in the team and 45 percent of a new the Brooklyn arena at Atlantic Yards, Prokhorov and the NBA have taught us something.
First, we now know that the NBA’s financial problems are not collective bargaining posturing by management but in fact very real. In years past, it’s been hard to imagine the strait-laced NBA commissioner David Stern rolling out the cashmere carpet for someone with the Russian plutocrat’s checkered past. Like many of the new billionaires in Russia’s “great frontier” capitalism of the last decade, the precious metals magnate is nobody’s saint.
As Candace Carponter, the legal director of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn said, “The NBA is so desperate to bail out Bruce Ratner and to get a wealthy international owner that, despite their claims, they failed to do a proper investigation of Mikhail Prokhorov."
Mikhail Prokhorov’s reputation as a win-at-all costs “gangster capitalist” may be well earned. But he might actually have to sharpen his chops to keep up with how they have taken care of business in Brooklyn. As Mankoff said, “Given the antics of some former and current professional sports owners in the US, I don’t think he’ll be any better or worse than some of them."
Posted by eric at 12:16 PM
TEA TIME WITH MIKHAIL PROKHOROV
The Brooklyn Ink
by Vinnie Rotondaro
Mikhail Prokhorov's big local exclusive goes to a 28-year-old who just graduated from journalism school.
On Wednesday I met with Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the recently minted owner of the New Jersey Nets, at the Clover Club, a bar in Carroll Gardens. Prokhorov is the first-ever foreign owner of an NBA team. He never drinks. “Maybe a glass of red wine sometimes,” he said, “with dinner.” So we sipped cups of English Breakfast tea instead. Below is our conversation, which has been edited down for the sake of brevity, and clarity.
Mr. Prokhorov, I want to get a better sense of who you are and where you come from.
(Prokhorov fools as if the question is out of line. He pretends to get up and leave)
(We huff and smile)
Where were you born?
I was born in Moscow.
A lot of Brooklynites are excited about this. They want a professional team. They think back to the days of the Dodgers. But other Brooklynites don’t like this. How aware were you of this when you were thinking about the project?
I know that nobody likes changes. I am very conservative with my social activity. I’m very flexible in my office and my businesses. But very stubborn in my social life. I think as soon the team comes, it will be a really fascinating story.
But how much attention did you pay to the resistance? Locals fought it for years. Whole groups formed against it.
I understand their concerns. But I think Bruce [Ratner] did a great job to reach a good agreement with the tenants—
NoLandGrab: Yes, great job indeed.
A (just-graduated) Columbia J-School student got a one-on-one interview with Mikhail Prokhorov yesterday, which The Brooklyn Ink published under the headline Tea Time with Mikhail Prokhorov.
(Here's some backstory from the Observer on how the interview came about. And here's Vinnie Rotondaro's coverage of the groundbreaking--happy to quote without skepticism claims of jobs--which might have caught the eye of Prokhorov's handlers.)
While much of the interview was unsurprising, given Prokhorov's parries in other interviews, the billionaire was asked if he was cognizant of the protests against the project (answer: not much).
But Prokhorov was not pressed on his claim that the arena would offer "affordable housing, new jobs, excellent opportunities for the small and middle-sized businesses."
AY vs. DC's Chinatown
And the interviewer, apparently not familiar with the revival of Prospect Heights and the bogus claims of blight at the project site, compared the site to the "dump" that was Washington, DC's Chinatown and suggested "some people still don’t like the idea of there being a downtown, Manhattan-esque part of Brooklyn."
Um, there already is a Downtown Brooklyn. It was rezoned. The 22-acre Atlantic Yards site is outside the boundaries.
Russian billionaire and new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was in extremely high demand among reporters on his tour through New York this week. At a press conference on Wednesday, which lasted almost an hour, reporters were allowed to ask questions one at a time. It was a scrum.
Mr Prokhorov did, however, grant two one-on-one interviews. The first was with Mike Francesa of WFAN, a virtual requirement for anyone entering the New York sports world.
And who got the second interview? It wasn’t Sports Illustrated, or The Times, or ESPN or the Journal.
It was with a 28-year-old named Vinnie Rotondaro who graduated from Columbia School of Journalism three days ago.
NLG: Maybe this is all legit, but something sounds fishy in the tale of how Vinnie got the get.
The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Nets' owner Prokhorov enjoys taking bite of Big Apple but still sweet on Russia
Prohkorov did take time out of his busy schedule for an interview over English Breakfast tea at the Clover Club in Carroll Gardens with blogger Vinnie Rotondaro of The Brooklyn Ink.
When asked if he planned to buy property in Brooklyn, Russia’s second-richest man replied "I haven’t decided yet ... My first priority now is to build a championship team."
NLG: Perhaps he prefers to acquire property the way Bruce Ratner does via eminent domain.
Posted by eric at 11:08 AM
Russian diplomat's daughter gets top Nets post
Billionaire owner of the NBA team hires Stanford grad and former Google staffer to help manage team and oversee development of the Nets' new Brooklyn arena.
AP via Crain's NY Business
The daughter of a Russian diplomat was hired Thursday as president of the company that will oversee the New Jersey Nets.
Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Group announced that Irina Pavlova will be the team owner's representative in the New York area.
Ms. Pavlova has extensive experience in business and finance. She earned an MBA from Stanford, worked as a financial analyst with Prudential Investment Corp. and became Russia's first employee for Google. She lived in Moscow and Washington as a child.
Ms. Pavlova will coordinate the development project in Brooklyn that is to become the Nets' new home. The long-delayed arena is expected to open in 2012.
NY Post, Nets 'draft' Russian gal
The Russian billionaire's Onexim Group announced yesterday that Irina Pavlova would be his local representative, opening an office in New York and working with the team's front office "to ensure they have everything they need to build a championship team."
Prokhorov plans to keep living in Moscow, so Pavlova will work on his behalf with developer Bruce Ratner on the Barclays Center in Prospect Heights and potentially on the rest of the Atlantic Yards project.
Posted by eric at 10:49 AM
May 20, 2010
Prokhorov's debut continues: caption contest for Bloomberg meeting; team name might change; one-liners charm reporters
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder rounds up the Prokhorov lovefest, including some stuff we missed.
In a breakfast with the mayor and a press conference with reporters, new Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov continued his American debut yesterday, with raves from sports reporters impressed by his demeanor and one-liners and unmindful of, oh, things like eminent domain or charges of sanctions-busting in Zimbabwe.
And, as the video from ESPN below shows, Prokhorov has even been schooled to utter a Ratnerian mantra, though surely he will be advised to amend "affordable houses and jobs" to "affordable housing and jobs."
Posted by eric at 11:04 AM
The Media: We ♥ Mikhail!
The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], New Nets owner Prokhorov all smiles after first visit to site of club’s new Brooklyn arena
From Russia to Brooklyn with Love.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who is now majority owner of the New Jersey Nets, paid his inaugural visit yesterday to the construction site of his team’s soon-to-be new home in Brooklyn.
“He seemed thrilled with what he saw and what he sees for the future,” Borough President Marty Markowitz, who accompanied the billionaire, said through a spokesperson.
Prokhorov quietly viewed the construction site from across the street, atop the Ratner-owned Atlantic Center Mall in Prospect Heights.
He was accompanied by a modest contingent that included Ratner and Markowitz, according to Ratner and Markowitz staffers.
It's good to be the kings.
Multibillionaire and newly minted Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov convened a meeting of his peers yesterday morning -- breaking bread with partner Jay-Z and Mayor Bloomberg at a gathering whose net worth is larger than the economies of more than a few small nations.
The retro-style mogul -- who doesn't own a cellphone, rarely uses a computer, prefers newspapers and writes his own letters -- also got his first look at the Atlantic Yards project, accompanied by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and developer Bruce Ratner. The whirlwind tour was part of just another day at the office for Prokhorov, who claims he needs just five to six hours of sleep a night....
NoLandGrab: Impressive, Mikhail, but you're a sleepyhead compared with Nets CEO Brett Yormark, who claims he sleeps but three hours a night. Imagine how bad the Nets would be if Yormark slumbered for eight hours like we mere mortals.
Mikhail Prokhorov is a man with tsar power.
The 6-foot-8 owner shared a Gracie Mansion breakfast with Mayor Bloomberg and Nets minority owner Jay-Z.
"We are soul mates," he said of the hip-hop mogul. "I'm looking forward to hanging out with him."
NLG: Soul mates, maybe; equal decision makers, uh, not so much...
In a brunch with reporters today, the Nets' new owner fired general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, lopped Mike Krzyzewski off his coaching shopping list, revealed his strategy for recruiting LeBron James, and essentially dismissed minority partner Jay-Z as being any part of that free agent process.
And while he said he likes and admires Jay-Z, who is a friend to many players, Prokhorov said the rap impresario will not be involved in the free agent recruitment process.
“I think it’s more than enough that he is very passionate with the team,” the owner said. “I think it’s management job to look for free agent ... it’s a professional job. But of course Jay-Z’s passion is additional advertisement for the team.”
...Prokhorov revealed that he initially had his eye on buying the Knicks.
Asked how he came to know former Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner, from whom he bought 80% of the Nets for $200 million, Prokhorov said one of his investment bankers recommended Ratner after it became clear that a deal for the Knicks was not possible.
"The idea was to buy Madison Square Garden and the basketball team and maybe the ice hockey team," Prokhorov said.
The Nets just rid themselves of an owner they wished would have disappeared in the Siberian wilderness. Now, they find one they want to stick around, and off he goes ... to Siberia.
Well, not quite that far, but close. Mikhail Prokhorov made a fine first impression in his whirlwind media tour, but just as quickly as he said privyet, he boarded his jet back to Moscow before we learned who he is and what he has planned for his new toy.
And, if you’re a Nets fan, you have to wonder: Can this long-distance relationship really work?
This franchise, a rotting carcass under predecessor Bruce Ratner, needs more than Prokhorov’s fat wallet. It needs a heavy dose of his swagger. It needs his presence and personality.
Prokhorov made a solid first impression — lots of humor, lots of polish, but little substance.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Prokhorov Would Like to Meet Brooklynites
After meeting with Bruce Ratner, Jay-Z and Mayor Bloomberg, after moving to Newark, Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov wants to meet you, Brooklynites.
You know where to reach us, Mikhail.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Snake Eyes: Prokhorov, Nets Jilted by Lady Luck at NBA Draft Lottery
Posted by eric at 10:16 AM
May 19, 2010
Prokhorov learning to talk the talk in NY
'Americans, I come in peace,' Nets owner says at Manhattan news conference
by Jane McManus
Funny, 'cause his predecessor has left Prospect Heights in pieces.
When asked if he has been to Brooklyn, Prokhorov mentioned that he was there years ago and, in essence, explained that any international business magnate is probably too busy to visit the outer boroughs on a regular basis. But given that the Nets are attempting to build and move into a new stadium and complex at Atlantic Yards, Prokhorov will be spending a lot of time there as he strives to attend 25 percent of the Nets' home games.
"What I like from Brooklyn is its absolute unique ethnic diversity," Prokhorov said. "It gives a lot of energy. It gives a lot of opportunities, and for me Brooklyn is a really exciting place and I'm looking forward to have more opportunity to meet with the people to speak and know better this place."
Posted by eric at 11:05 PM
AY resumes as sports story: Prokhorov era begins with a championship pledge, lottery bump, Boomberg welcome, eerie echo of Gehry
Atlantic Yards Report
Atlantic Yards, as it was for so many months after word of the project emerged in July 2003 and the official announcement in December 2003, has again become a sports story, with news of the Nets and their colorful billionaire owner absorbing pages and pixels.
"Colorful billionaire owner?" Did Norman Oder bother to watch that video he posted? It's like watching (white) paint dry.
Despite the best chance at the first pick, given their league-worst record, the Nets unluckily got the third pick. That means they almost surely won't draft can't-miss prospect John Wall (subject of scenarios in which free agent superstar LeBron James is lured as a package), but they should have a shot at a very good player.
Still, as Mitch Lawrence noted in the Daily News, Prokhorov's pre-draft pledge to win an NBA championship within "one year minimum and maximum in five years" and to "turn Knicks fans into Nets fans" is "[n]ot looking good."
Echo of Gehry
Asked in an NBA.com interview what his sales pitch would be to free agents, Prokhorov, reprising much from his earlier video, asserted two competitive advantages.
One involves the presentation of a global team with fans all around the world. The other? "We are creating the history, practically from scratch now," with a great desire to win.
Surely Prokhorov didn't know that his words sounded eerily reminiscent of (now-departed) project architect Frank Gehry, who at the 12/10/03 inaugural press conference called Atlantic Yards an "extraordinary opportunity... to do housing, to do a mixed project and build a whole neighborhood practically from scratch and fit it into an existing fabric and make something special out of it."
Posted by eric at 10:03 AM
When Billionaires and Eminent Domain Abusers Meet
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Oh to be a fly on the wall of Gracie Mansion tomorrow morning.
PUBLIC SCHEDULE FOR MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG
WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010
Has Breakfast with New Nets Majority Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman Bruce Ratner and Nets Co-Owner Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter
88th Street at East End Avenue
*Photo opportunity only.
Posted by eric at 9:58 AM
May 18, 2010
New Owner; Same Old Nets
Nets Are Scorching, WHAT WINNING THE DRAFT LOTTERY MEANS
The graph above was done by Sleepy Freud of the Warriors blog Golden State of Mind, and it displays visually the Nets chances at the different picks. As you can see, there are only four colors represented on the Nets’ chart, meaning that the worst the Nets can do is the 4th overall pick. The Nets really need the number one pick though. It isn’t because of John Wall though, sure he is a fantastic player, but in all honesty I’d be happy with any of the players rumored to be in the top 4. The reason the Nets need to win the draft lottery is that they need to keep this “momentum train” rolling.
If the Nets win the draft lottery, the good mojo continues and this new feeling that Nets’ fan have (I think it is called hope) keeps going. If the Nets lose, it is just the other shoe dropping, something Nets’ fans are used to.
I think winning the lottery is what will help Nets’ fans finally close the book on the Bruce Ratner era for good and confidently start the Mikhail Prokhorov off on the right foot, optimistically.
NoLandGrab: Consider the "momentum train" derailed, and the other shoe dropped the Nets drew the third straw in the NBA draft lottery.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Prokhorov Promises Championship, Not Affordable Housing
In this video you can just feel the excitement and the dedictation to Brooklyn and affordable housing. Well, not really...but it is worth watching the new owner of the Nets and 40% of the Barclays Center Arena (and eventually possibly the whole arena and 20% of the rest of Atlantic Yards) humorlessly (and expressionlessly) explain how he'll pick up the pieces from the wreckage Ratner left behind.
NLG: Prokhorov's English is waaaaay better than our Russian, but Nets Daily really calls this guy "the most interesting man in the world?" They need to get out more.
Nets Are Scorching, LADIES & GENTLEMEN, GET UP & CHEER: MIKHAIL PROKHOROV HAS ARRIVED
Seriously, try to picture Bruce Ratner making this video. You can’t. He’d just say something about “maximizing our profit margin” and then continue to drown whatever small child he was holding at the time.
Posted by eric at 11:29 PM
May 16, 2010
Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov should move to Brooklyn - and earn the borough's trust
By Alex Nazaryan
This is a pretty odd op-ed. After giving every indication that the Atlantic Yards development was pushed through for the benefit of developer Bruce Ratner, the idea is that things will be fine if only Mikhail Prokhorov moves to Brooklyn.
Moving to Brooklyn would help Prokhorov understand that the borough of homes and churches is neither Manhattan nor his native Moscow. In Russia's capital, entire neighborhoods are razed at the whim of city officials, while its traffic jams are among the world's worst.
This statement is apparently meant to contrast Moscow and Brooklyn, but ignores the destruction of a neighborhood for an arena and the traffic congestion that will come with the development.
By committing to live in Brooklyn, Prokhorov can signal that he intends for the communities around the Barclays Center to remain livable. American cities are rife with unsightly sports arenas, out of sync with their surroundings and unfriendly to pedestrians; Barclays Center must avoid that fate.
An arena surrounded by parking lots sends a clear message as to what Prokhorov thinks about keeping Brooklyn livable.
The more Prokhorov incorporates Brooklyn into his plans, the more thoroughly we will embrace him. I hope that the Barclays Center forgoes bland, corporate and instead offers the beloved Latin American cuisine sold at the Red Hook ball fields, along with sublime stromboli from the Bari Pork Store in Gravesend and, of course, hearty Russian fare from Brighton Beach. All beer should come from locals like Brooklyn Brewery and Sixpoint Craft Ales. Heck, there's enough space in the Barclays Center footprint for its own organic farm.
The idea that an area can be understood and honored merely by eating representative cuisine is simply silly. And yes, there might be plenty of room for farming, but cultivating parking lots will be a challenge.
The real point of this op-ed seems to be a hope by the author for a bromance with Prokhorov.
As someone who lives four blocks from where the Nets will someday play, I hope that Prokhorov treats our borough as more than a distant outpost to be visited in a town car. I hope he walks along the graceful brownstone blocks of Fort Greene and acquires a bit of Brooklyn patois. While he's at it, he should also cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot and ride the F train to its end in Coney Island.
As for Italian food, I'll take him to a wonderful little place in Brooklyn Heights. We'll split the bill.
NoLandGrab: "Mikhail, you've destroyed my neighborhood. So why do I find you so irresistible?"
Posted by steve at 7:39 AM
New Jersey Nets' new billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov is about to come in from the cold
By Nathaniel Vinton
This piece notes how the new owner of the Nets and savior of Bruce Ratner, oligarch Mikhail Prokhrov, is generating excitement for sports fans, but also raises questions as to how well the NBA vetted him.
Prokhorov is not the first non-American to take possession of a major professional sports franchise in the U.S. - Nintendo of America owns the Seattle Mariners, for instance. But it is still unprecedented for New York City, and not everyone is excited about the prospect. Democratic congressman Bill Pascrell of New Jersey has asked the Treasury Department to scrutinize Prokhorov's investment empire for ties to Zimbabwe's notorious dictator Robert Mugabe, whose regime is subject to strict U.S. sanctions.
"I really encourage foreign investment in the United States of America," says Rep. Pascrell, "but I believe we have an obligation and responsibility to very carefully investigate the people and companies involved, and I believe we have not done that in this particular case."
Pascrell admits he's disappointed to see the Nets leaving home state New Jersey (after spending the coming two seasons in Newark). He is outraged by what he calls the lack of transparency in the background check the NBA says it conducted this spring.
In another economic climate, this background would not fly with the NBA Board of Governors, says Dave Zirin, the author of the forthcoming book "Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love."
"There are numerous reports on the public record that Mikhail Prokhorov made a great deal of money in ways that might raise an eyebrow or two," says Zirin. "It's not a question of whether he was vetted, but of how much Stern was willing to overlook."
NBA Commissioner David Stern continues to find a way to keep his vetting process opaque:
David Stern says that the firm the NBA hired to investigate Prokhorov's business background could find no reason why he shouldn't be an owner. He wouldn't name the firm because he worries that identifying it might compromise the firm's ability to conduct future investigations. Stern did say it was not a law firm, and that the league has used the group's services in the past.
"We retained a firm that has important investigative assets and contacts on a global basis," says Stern. "We made additional discrete inquiries of various agencies and departments that are not at liberty to talk to us on the record. We made a complete round of inquiries."
After raising the reader's suspicions, the article makes it awfully difficult to believe this quote from Russian NBA player Andrei Kirilenko:
"He's not just going to be good for the Russian community," says Kirilenko, who peruses the bookstores of the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach when he visits New York, "everyone in the area is going to like him."
Posted by steve at 7:19 AM
May 14, 2010
In third list of NY Observer's "most powerful people in New York real estate," Ratner drops down and Prokhorov debuts
Atlantic Yards Report
The New York Observer has produced its third edition of the Power 100: The Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate. Notably, Bruce Ratner continues to drop down the list, from #8 in 2008 to #23 in 2009 to #53 this year.
And Mikhail Prokhorov debuts ahead of Ratner, at #43.
Sure, Ratner could not have moved Atlantic Yards without the deal to sell 80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena--actually, the arena operating company--to Prokhorov, but Ratner has the connections and pays for the lobbying. He's still more powerful, in my book.
Also notable is the debut appearance of New York Times real estate/development reporter Charles Bagli, who should have made all three lists, though not for his coverage of AY.
It's hard to believe that, in 2008, I was on the list. Not anymore.
#43: Mikhail Prokhorov, Would-be owner of the Brooklyn Nets
Assuming the NBA gives him the thumbs-up, Mr. Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, is slated to become owner of New York City’s newest professional sports team, as well as a co-owner of the Barclays Center now under construction in downtown Brooklyn after seven years of planning.
#53: Bruce Ratner (23), Chairman of Forest City Ratner
For the past seven years, Mr. Ratner’s focus has been on Atlantic Yards, the planned home to a Brooklyn Nets arena and, eventually, thousands of units of housing. This spring, he finally emerged the winner of the fight with defiant landowners. He was clearly wounded by delays and the economic crash, but he is still standing, and construction is under way.
#61: Charles Bagli, Staff writer for The New York Times
In a world of blogs, sometimes it takes the most influential news organization to call the end of an era. Mr. Bagli (an Observer alumnus!) did just that in October 2008, in a story titled “Failed Deals Replace Boom in New York Real Estate.” Since then, he’s documented every major development, successful or struggling, from Stuy Town to N.Y.U. to Atlantic Yards.
Posted by eric at 11:33 AM
Prokhorov, Ratner Seal Deal for Nets
by Eliot Brown
Per the announcement, the deal for the $900 million arena is now fully financed (Mr. Ratner apparently raised new financing needed to complete the deal), and the $510 million in tax-free bonds have been released from escrow.
With the closing and a new $75 million investment by Mr. Prokhorov, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's dropped a downgrade watch on the $511 million in tax-free bonds, leaving the existing BBB- rating on the bonds. Essentially, this means S&P believes there's less risk to the project than it did a few weeks ago, given that Mr. Ratner has found a way to get it fully financed.
Mr. Prokhorov, who now owns 45 percent of the arena development, put in an additional $75.8 million loan to help finance the project, according to the report, a loan that "has certain equity like characteristics."
NoLandGrab: That's nothing compared to the hustle Ratner and his elected (and unelected) accomplices have pulled on the citizens of New York.
Posted by eric at 11:25 AM
May 13, 2010
Nets welcome Prokhorov, "new big man" with "winning attitude"
Atlantic Yards Report
From the Nets' official site:
In the realm of attitude and commitment, let's recall new team majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov's days in what New York Times sports business reporter Richard Sandomir referred to as "Russia's frenetic transformation to capitalism” and Michael D.D. White's clarified as just another form of special privilege.
"Have you ever given a bribe?" Bloomberg reporter Ryan Chilcote asked Prokhorov during a Bloomberg TV profile aired in March.
"It was like, 15 years ago, last time," Prokhorov responds, his syntax indicating it wasn't a first.
Prokhorov and his partners have more subtle and legal ways of achieving influence these days.
Then again, the Ridge Hill scandal is still a mystery.
Posted by eric at 11:38 PM
Prokhorov filled arena financing gap not by buying bonds but offering a loan; he could end up owning 80% of arena operating company
Atlantic Yards Report
Well, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who as of yesterday owns 80% of the Nets, also filled the financing gap for arena construction, thus leading ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) to affirm its investment grade (BBB-) rating on $511 million in tax-free bonds and removing them from the potential downgrade announced in March.
Prokhorov offered a $75.8 million loan rather than, as reported, buying $106 million in taxable bonds.
And Prokhorov--who put down $200 million for 80% of the Nets and 45% of the arena, and agreed to fund some $220 million in losses and debt--apparently drove a hard bargain with Forest City Ratner and Forest City Enterprises.
With relatively little additional cash, Prokhorov, according to a report issued yesterday by S&P, could end up owning 80% of Brooklyn Arena LLC (BALLC), the company operating the Barclays Center.
If so--and S&P didn't call it likely--that would mean that the government assistance and eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards arena, the first building in the project, would have benefited most directly Russia's second-richest man.
Had that been announced during the approval process, it surely would have generated much more concern.
Posted by eric at 12:03 PM
Wall Street Journal on Atlantic Yards
Future Of Capitali$m
On its New York sports page, the Wall Street Journal covers a Reverse Robin-Hood: Mikhail Prokhorov, whose fortune has been estimated at $17 billion, gets to build a new basketball stadium in Brooklyn for the Nets in partnership with Bruce Ratner with $511 million in tax-free bonds. The article is headlined "Bruce Ratner Looks Back on His Ownership of the New Jersey Nets," but it might have been headlined, "American taxpayers, many of whom are struggling to raise capital to invest in their businesses without tax-exempt financing, pay to subsidize stadium for a man who could have afforded to build it with his own money."
NoLandGrab: That pretty much nails it.
Bergen Record, Nets: Ready, set, rebuild
The Nets have undergone a change in ownership and philosophy.
The sale from Bruce Ratner to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, which was finalized Wednesday, means the Nets will make winning basketball games a priority again and not have to worry about shedding salaries and costs.
When Ratner purchased the Nets six years ago for $300 million, he bought a team that had been to two straight NBA Finals. But Ratner wanted the Nets for real estate reasons, to move them to Brooklyn, which will be a reality because of Prokhorov.
Under Ratner and his ownership group, winning became secondary and cutting costs the norm. It led to Kenyon Martin’s trade in 2004 and Jason Kidd’s forced exit in 2007, and contributed to the Nets going from a 52-win squad during the 2001-02 season to a 12-win team this campaign.
NY Post, Nyet gain for Brooklyn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Done Deal: New Nets Owner Prokhorov Approved By NBA’s Board of Governors
NBC New York, Russian Basketball Comes to Brooklyn
"The happiest man in all this has to be Bruce Ratner," said one opposing executive who, like many NBA execs, coaches and assistants, yesterday saw approval of Prokhorov as a positive for the league but asked for anonymity because he didn't want to publicly address another team's dealings. "Ratner got in it for the real estate and got screwed but only after he screwed the Nets."
One coach called Prokhorov the "Russian Mark Cuban who is going to do whatever it takes to win." He was alluding to the Dallas owner's vast wealth and competitive drive to win.
The real Mark Cuban welcomed Prokhorov into the NBA's ownership ranks.
"I think it's great," Cuban said via e-mail. "His desire to win, and his personality are a huge positive for the NBA."
NLG: The value of a ringing endorsement from Cuban, however, may be somewhat negligible, like the financial health of Cuban's own team...
The New York Times, Minority Owner Sues Cuban, Calls Mavericks ‘Insolvent’
Mark Cuban’s financial management of the Dallas Mavericks was described as reckless in a lawsuit filed Monday in Texas by a minority investor in the team who accused Cuban of amassing net losses of $273 million and debt of more than $200 million.
Ross Perot Jr., who sold Cuban control of the team in 2000 but retained a small stake, said in the state court filing that the team was essentially insolvent and lacked the revenue to pay its debts.
The NBA appears to have about as much interest investigating the Mavericks' alleged insolvency as it did Prokhorov's ties to international pariah Zimbabwe:
The N.B.A. does not seem to be worried by Perot’s accusations.
Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner of the N.B.A., said the league had “absolutely no concern” about Cuban’s financial situation.
NLG: The league, however, might one day have to reckon with its being one big house of cards.
Posted by eric at 11:10 AM
May 12, 2010
After NBA approval, Forest City's deal to sell Nets to Prokhorov finalized; Ratner talks about jobs and housing
Atlantic Yards Report
Even though the deal involves hoops--the Nets basketball team and the Atlantic Yards arena--note that Bruce Ratner is still talking about jobs and housing.
(Yes, there will be construction jobs but not the 10,000 office jobs initially promised. One tower might begin construction later this year.)
NoLandGrab: Why would Bruce Ratner let the truth start to get in the way of his bullshit now?
Well-armed Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov closed on the Atlantic Yards deal with developer Bruce Ratner today. In a statement Prokhorov said, "This much-anticipated day has finally come and now the real fun begins of building a championship team with a state-of-the-art home in the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards." Such hope!
The new principal owner, who was overseas when the final papers were signed in Brooklyn, closed the deal at 12:30 Wednesday afternoon with Bruce Ratner’s group, according to a statement issued through his holding company, Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc.
AP via USA Today, Sale of New Jersey Nets to Russian billionaire complete
The team was ruined by cost-cutting moves under Ratner, who signed off on the trades of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.
Bloomberg Businessweek, Developer Forest City closes sale of Nets stake
Shares of Forest City Enterprises rose 41 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $15.50 in afternoon trading.
The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Russian billionaire closes deal to buy Nets and move club to Brooklyn
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Russian billionaire closes Nets deal with Forest City subsidiary
Posted by eric at 6:31 PM
PRESS RELEASE: Forest City Announces Closing of Agreement with Mikhail Prokhorov Related to Nets, Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards
Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB) today announced that its New York-based subsidiary, Forest City Ratner Companies, closed an agreement with Nets Sports and Entertainment and Mikhail Prokhorov, under which entities controlled by Prokhorov will acquire an 80 percent stake in the Nets basketball team and a 45 percent share in the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn. The transaction was approved by the National Basketball Association's Board of Governors on May 11.
"This is a major step forward for Brooklyn, the Nets and Atlantic Yards," said Charles A. Ratner, Forest City Enterprises president and chief executive officer. "We are pleased to partner with Mikhail Prokhorov and we share his vision of bringing professional basketball to Brooklyn and to a worldwide audience from the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards. I also want to acknowledge the hard work and creativity of Forest City's entire New York team, led by Bruce Ratner and Joanne Minieri, in making this day possible."
In accordance with the agreement, subsidiaries of Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., have invested $200 million and made certain contingent funding commitments to acquire the above-referenced shares of the arena and team, as well as the right to purchase up to 20 percent of the Atlantic Yards Development Company, which will develop the non-arena real estate.
NoLandGrab: Yadda, etc.
Posted by eric at 6:26 PM
PRESS RELEASE: Prokhorov and FCRC Announce Closing on Partnership
Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and Nets Sports and Entertainment (NSE) announced today that they have closed on the agreement for the purchase of an 80% stake in the capital of the Nets basketball club and a 45% share in the Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn.
Mikhail Prokhorov, principal owner of Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., said, “This much-anticipated day has finally come and now the real fun begins of building a championship team with a state-of-the-art home in the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards. It’s a wonderful opportunity to combine great sports and good business, and I look forward to working with Bruce Ratner and Forest City and with the Nets organization as we move ahead. To the fans, whether in New Jersey, Brooklyn, or Moscow, I will do everything I can to give you a winning team. See you at the Draft Lottery.”
Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of FCRC, said, “This is a partnership that will allow us to bring Brooklyn and the Nets to a world-wide audience. I’m thrilled to have Mikhail on board and look forward to working with him as we embark on this journey to Brooklyn.”
Mr. Ratner explained as well that while construction on the site and arena has been ongoing, today also marks a significant milestone in the history of the project because all paper work related to the arena lease has been completed and bond funds have been released from escrow. “We are thankful to our partners, especially the Mayor and the Governor,” Mr. Ratner said. “Today, the promise of Atlantic Yards, including the Barclays Center, the jobs and the housing, becomes a reality.”
In accordance with the agreement, subsidiaries of Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc., have invested $200 million and have made certain contingent funding commitments to acquire 45% of the arena project and 80% of the NBA team, and the right to purchase up to 20% of the Atlantic Yards Development Company, which will develop the non-arena real estate.
The transaction was approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors on May 11th. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal counsel to FCRC and NSE. Hogan Lovells advised Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc. and its subsidiaries.
NoLandGrab: Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
Posted by eric at 6:20 PM
Ratner's Reign of Error Ends. Prokhorov's Plaything Begins
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Earlier today the NBA approved the transfer of ownership of the league's worst team, the New Jersey Nets, from Bruce Ratner to Russia's richest man Mikhail Prokhorov.
Thus ends Ratner's 6-plus years of staking his claim to the title of one of the worst, if not the worst, owners in sports history (that's what happens when you buy a team to do a land grab.)
Now what do we have? A project proposed by a Cleveland-based developer and approved by an unelected, unaccountable state agency is now in a large part under control of a Russian oligarch who bailed out Ratner.
Field of Schemes, NBA approves Nets sale to Prokhorov
So much for that whole Zimbabwe thing: The NBA Board of Governors (in other words, the league's owners) voted yesterday to approve Mikhail Prokhorov as owner of the New Jersey Nets. Prokhorov now becomes the league's first non-North American owner, as well as its second richest after the Portland Trail Blazers' Paul Allen.
The final tally: Prokhorov pays $200 million, plus assumed $180 million in team debt, in exchange for 80% of the team and 45% of their new Brooklyn arena. Prokhorov also agrees to buy $100 million worth of arena bonds, something that looks like a worse deal for him now that the bonds may fall below junk status.
The Russian oligarch received official approval from the NBA Board of Governors to purchase controlling ownership in the team Tuesday, setting the stage for the official closing of the transaction today.
Then, presumably, there will be something to cheer about — notably, the reawakening of a franchise that had pinched every penny under owner Bruce Ratner the last few seasons.
He purchases the Nets at a time when NBA business is bad business. The league and its 30 teams will lose roughly $400 million this season, Stern disclosed during All-Star Weekend; and for the first time in decades, most franchises are no longer appreciating in value.
The Nets themselves lost $64 million in fiscal 2009, according to SEC filings. So desperate for a wealthy partner, Ratner approached Prokhorov in July, and their partnership saved the Atlantic Yards project that had been Ratner’s dream since he purchased the Nets for $300 million in 2004.
Brownstoner, Electeds Protest Prokhorov Too Late
Also yesterday, a group of five Brooklyn elected officials released a letter to NBA commission David Stern protesting the sale to Prokhorov on the grounds of his prior business relationship with zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. The only problem? The letter was sent after the NBA had already made its decision. Still, as Atlantic Yards Report points out, it was unlikely the letter would have had much impact after similar concerns from a New Jersey congressman had been brushed off.
The Brooklyn Paper, Tsar power! NBA approves Prokhorov to take over Nets
Put the borscht on the menu at the Barclays Center — a Russian billionaire now owns the Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets!
The New York Times, Prokhorov To Take Over Nets
As expected, the N.B.A. board of governors approved the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov’s deal to be the new majority owner of the Nets. The approval was unanimous among the teams that voted. One team, the Chicago Bulls, did not vote.
NoLandGrab: We're ordering our Bulls jerseys now.
NY Daily News, Russian approved for Nyets
Ratner had been planning to move the Nets to Brooklyn for years but hit numerous delays due to legal and financial issues. The move became official only after Prokhorov - who will be the second-richest owner in the league behind Portland's Paul Allen - agreed to buy the team.
Prokhorov is believed to be in Russia but is expected to be in New Jersey on Tuesday to represent the Nets at the draft lottery.
The Supreme Court Jester, A Short Alphabetical History of the Nets from Dr. J to Jay-Z
Will he rename the team the Ets? That way they could be the N.Y. ets --with a motto like "Get to "no" the NYets." Plenty of people have said "no" to the Nyets in opposing their new home in the Atlantic Yards proposed by Forest City Developer Bruce Ratner. The latest suit involves real-estate entrepreneur Peter Williams, who says he owns some "air rights" above the site of the planned Nets arena in Downtown Brooklyn -- and the billion-dollar project can't be completed until he settles the issue with the developer.
Posted by eric at 10:43 AM
May 11, 2010
As expected, NBA approves Prokhorov as Nets' majority owner; Brooklyn officials release belated call for NBA caution on Zimbabwe issue
Atlantic Yards Report
Today, the National Basketball Association Board of Governors, as expected, approved Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov as majority owner of the New Jersey Nets.
And five Brooklyn elected officials, led by Council Member Letitia James, sent a letter (below) to NBA Commissioner David Stern urging the league to postpone the decision and look seriously into charges that a company Prokhorov partly owns is connected to sanctions-busing in Zimbabwe.
Given that Stern had previously brushed off the charges raised by New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, there was little chance that the Brooklyn officials' concerns would be taken seriously.
Still, they released the letter just after the NBA vote and might have gotten more attention had they sent the letter earlier.
Click thru for the full text of the letter.
Posted by eric at 10:35 PM
NBA approves sale of Nets to Russian Prokhorov
by Brian Mahoney
The first step in what the New Jersey Nets hope is a quick turnaround is in place. New owner Mikhail Prokhorov is eager to get started on the rest.
"For those who are already fans of the Nets and the NBA, I intend to give you plenty to cheer about," the Russian billionaire said in a statement.
The Nets are now officially the Nyets.
Prokhorov's purchase of the team was approved Tuesday by NBA's owners, who welcomed the first non-North American into their club.
Russia's richest man agreed to buy 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of an arena project in Brooklyn from developer Bruce Ratner late last year. Final approval of the sale was delayed until the state of New York had taken over all the land seized under eminent domain at the site of the team's Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Nets expect that transaction to close Wednesday, and the long-delayed 18,000-seat arena is to open in 2012.
NoLandGrab: And thus ends the "Bruce Ratner era," which firmly trounced "the Dark Ages," the "Great Depression" and "the '70s" for worst era ever.
NY Observer, NBA Approves Nets Sale From Ratner to Prokhorov
This ends a more than six-year stretch for Mr. Ratner, the Brooklyn-based developer whose Nets sunk to nearly the worst record in NBA history this season as he struggled to begin the project that attracted him to the Nets in the first place: Atlantic Yards, the planned $4.9 billion Brooklyn mixed-use development that holds a new Nets arena as a centerpiece.
Construction has finally begun on the arena, and last week, the holdout who had led so much of the fervent opposition to the project for years, Daniel Goldstein, moved out after the state claimed his land and he settled with Mr. Ratner for $3 million.
It's indeed a new era for Brooklyn, as the chapter of fighting and opposition has come to a close, clearing the way for a less dynamic narrative of construction.
NLG: Pending, of course, three lawsuits, including Peter Williams's air-rights challenge.
The Wall Street Journal, Russian Billionaire Takes Control of the New Jersey Nets
“We are pleased,” said NBA commissioner David Stern in a written statement. “We anticipate that his passion for the game and business acumen will be of considerable value not only to the Nets franchise but to the entire NBA.”
According to people familiar with the matter, NBA officials were satisfied that Prokhorov would play by the NBA rules and would be a suitable owner for the NBA franchise that has struggled financially.
NLG: i.e., he fit the league's ABB blueprint: anybody but Bruce.
The Internets [NYDailyNews.com], Prokhorov approved by NBA's board of governors
The league sent out an e-mail just after 5:30 p.m., putting an end to what had been anticipated since Prokhorov struck a deal to buy a majority share of the team from Bruce Ratner last September. Some final business needs to be taken care of tomorrow and then the Russian billionaire will official take control of the league's worst team and begin his mission of turning it into one of the best.
TrueHoop [ESPN.com], Mikhail Prokhorov, just in time
On the day that Mark Cuban is battling the notion that his Mavericks are barely solvent, Mikhail Prokhorov arrives on the scene to compete for the title of owner NBA fans most dream of becoming.
The Sports Section [NYMag.com], The Prokhorov Has Landed
It's impossible to overstate how much Prokhorov is going to change our area sporting landscape; we really might have our new Steinbrenner. The journey begins today. Don't say you weren't warned.
"We are pleased that the NBA's board of governors approved Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of majority ownership of the Nets, welcoming into the NBA ownership ranks the league's first majority investor from outside of North America," said NBA commissioner David Stern.
The Star-Ledger, NBA Board of Governors approves sale of Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov
The Board of Governors vote, which was done via e-mail, was unanimous among the 29 NBA team representatives.
One adamant nay vote, however, came again Tuesday from Congressman Bill Pascrell, the Essex County representative who in recent weeks has changed that the NBA overlooked Prokhorov’s business ties with Zimbabwe – a country under U.S. sanction – and Russian organized crime.
Calling the sale “short-sighted,” Pascrell reiterated that the league’s vetting process was a “smokescreen.”
“Mr. Stern has refused to confirm or deny to me whether the league’s vetting operation looked at Mr. Prokhorov’s businesses in Zimbabwe and his investment bank’s ties to a massive public corruption scheme,” Pascrell said in a statement. “This is simply unacceptable to me and the millions of basketball fans across the country who hold the NBA to a higher standard.
“I believe there are plenty of fans who consider the NBA’s sacrificing of principles in the name of scoring a quick profit as a flagrant foul.”
Bloomberg Businessweek, Prokhorov’s $200 Million Nets Buy Gains NBA Approval
Prokhorov will be the first owner of an NBA team from outside North America and the second foreign owner of a U.S. franchise. Nintendo of America Inc. is the majority owner of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners.
“Today’s vote will give the NBA a greater global reach and bring a multitude of new fans to the game of basketball,” Prokhorov said in an e-mailed statement.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Prokhorov Approved to Own the Nets
True to form, the Eagle runs the press release.
Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the Barclays Center, said, “Mikhail and his team will bring tremendous innovation and excitement to the NBA. He has a love for basketball and a commitment to excellence. I also thank the Nets organization, for which I have worked very closely with over the last six years. I have never met a more hard working and committed group of professionals, who are dedicated to the team, and, more importantly, to the fans.”
NLG: "For which I have worked very closely with?" Bruce's grasp of the language is only rivaled by his grasp of pro basketball.
Prokhorov has made it clear he intends on moving the team to Brooklyn.
The sale had been held up over legal delays on Atlantic Yards.
The Wall Street Journal, Meet Prokhorov's Fixer-In-Chief
Posted by eric at 9:04 PM
May 10, 2010
Clock ticking on Nets' renewal
by Al Iannazzone
With Prokhorov worth roughly $17 billion, the Nets won’t cut corners or use players as marketing tools, as they have in recent years. It doubtful any Nets will deliver pizzas, as Courtney Lee did for a promotion during this dismal 12-70 season. The focus will return to basketball and winning.
"They’re going to be one of the best organizations in the league," an NBA executive said.
Prokohorov, who made his fortune in precious metals, will own 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the Brooklyn arena project. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson, tried blocking the sale, claiming Prokhorov’s business dealings with Zimbabwe violated U.S. sanctions. The NBA called Pascrell "misinformed."
The holdup has been clearing the Brooklyn site, which was accomplished Friday, all but paving the way for Prokhorov to try to do for the Nets what he did in Russia last decade.
NoLandGrab: "Misinformed?" The NBA's so-called "vetting" process appears to consist of making sure that the owner of the Nets is anyone other than Bruce Ratner. Prokhorov, who "made his fortune in precious metals," also does business in Zimbabwe, which appears intent on selling uranium to our good friends Iran. From The Guardian:
"Be also assured, comrade president Ahmadinejad, of Zimbabwe's continuous support of Iran's just cause on the nuclear issue," Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, pledged last week. The prospect that Iran had secured exclusive uranium rights in Zimbabwe for its nuclear programme emerged following Mugabe's comments.
And what person doing business in Zimbabwe has more expertise in mining than the soon-to-be Nets owner? Vet that, David Stern.
Posted by eric at 10:02 AM
May 3, 2010
It's Prokhorov to the Rescue!
Russian Billionaire Who's Buying the NBA's Nets Has Worked Magic Before; a Broken Biathlon Team
The Wall Street Journal
by Reed Albergotti
Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov helped resurrect the country's woeful biathlon team. Can he turn around the Nets?
At the moment, the Nets are barely better off than the Russian biathlon team 19 months ago. The Nets almost had the worst record in NBA history. They haven't had a winning record since 2006 and has the NBA's worst attendance numbers. The team has been hemorrhaging anywhere from $20 million to $30 million a year, according to the team's current owner, Bruce Ratner, who, after a seven-year fight has both the funding and the necessary approvals in place to build a more profitable arena in Brooklyn.
Mr. Ratner says some of the team's woes on the court were intentional—the Nets unloaded some talent to create salary room for an unusually star-studded free-agent market that includes marquee players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. What the Nets do in free agency will determine, to a great extent, their success in the NBA.
When the NBA was vetting Mr. Prokhorov last fall, a person familiar with the discussions said one big question was whether he could put together a winning team in the NBA while operating under the league's salary controls. When he built CSKA Moscow, he primarily used his fortune to sign better talent than the competition.
Mr. Kushchenko thinks Mr. Prokhorov will be successful in New Jersey, despite his inability to buy any players he wants. "It's a big mistake to think that Mikhail Prokhorov spends unlimited money," said Mr. Kushchenko.
He adds that Mr. Prokhorov's greatest skill is improving everything around the field of play, while letting coaches and general managers figure out what to do with athletes. "Money is a tool to create thoughtful, professional staff," he says. "His style is to invite the best professionals from this or that field, and create a sophisticated, detailed system, use modern technologies and be sure to bring the project to a positive result."
Nets fans, wherever they may be hiding, had better hope so.
Posted by eric at 11:22 PM
April 29, 2010
New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner's $3M payout speeds billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's take over
NY Daily News
by Mitch Lawrence and Michael O'Keeffe
When Nets owner Bruce Ratner agreed last week to pay $3 million to last Atlantic Yards holdout Daniel Goldstein to move from his Brooklyn apartment by May 7, most press accounts noted that the payout made sense because delays in construction of the Barclays Center were costing the developer $6.7 million a month.
But there was another reason why Ratner was willing to pay Goldstein far more than other residents who stood in the way of his wrecking balls: The sooner Goldstein moved, the sooner Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov could take over the Nets and start rebuilding a laughingstock team that won just 12 games this season.
"The state's rush to push me out was to serve Prokhorov's interests and the Nets' interests and not the public interest," Goldstein told the Daily News. "It had everything to do with Prokhorov and ownership of Nets. It didn't have anything to do with housing or jobs."
Goldstein's attorney Michael Rikon, an expert in condemnation law, said people pushed from their homes by state officials exercising eminent domain authority are typically given six months to move after the state takes control of their property. Ownership of Goldstein's apartment was transferred to the Empire State Development Corp. on March 1, and on April 9, ESDC filed documents requesting that a court evict Goldstein and his wife and daughter by May 17 - the day before the draft lottery, in which the Nets are favored to land the No. 1 pick.
Posted by eric at 10:33 AM
April 27, 2010
Russian Billionaire Is White Knight for the Nets
The New York Times
by Howard Beck
In an apparent effort to expand its flagging advertiser base, The New York Times is starting to sound an awful lot like People Magazine.
Prokhorov is relatively young, wealthy, charming, tall, athletic and adventurous, a modern-day renaissance man with an air of cold war mystique. He could pass for a Bond villain, or a double agent in a Tom Clancy novel. The NetsDaily blog has dubbed him “the Most Interesting Man in the World,” after the suave fellow in the beer commercials.
As an N.B.A. owner, Prokhorov may have a unique advantage: himself.
He will be one of the league’s youngest owners, its tallest (6 feet 8 inches) and, aside from Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, its most athletic. He is an expert skier, a competitive basketball player and an avid kickboxer.
His public image is undeniably cool, and surely appealing to the young athletes he will soon try to recruit.
In a YouTube video that was professionally shot and put to music, Prokhorov performs aerial stunts on a Jet Ski.
NoLandGrab: As Norman Oder points out below, though The Times fails to acknowledge it, the business partner of their business partner is their business partner. Which might help explain the teen-pop magazine treatment of Prokhorov.
Beck, with the assistance of two Times reporters, quoted the following sources in the article: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, agent Marc Cornstein, former CSKA Moscow (and Prokhorov employee) Ettore Messina, former CSKA president Sergei Kuschenko, and Russan sports journalist Andrei Mitkov.
When a “60 Minutes” interview veered into sensitive areas, like his 2007 run-in with the French police over suspected prostitution, Prokhorov defused the tension with humor and an impish smile.
Here's what's missing from the piece: questions about Prokhorov's business practices, including alleged sanctions-busting in Zimbabwe; Prokhorov's use of sports as a platform for business investment in the United States; and Prokhorov's belief that, despite the Kremlin connections that fostered his wealth, he's a self-made man.
Missing from the article is any disclosure that Prokhorov, slated to buy 80% of the Nets, would also own 45% of the Atlantic Yards arena in partnership with a Forest City Ratner entity.
Forest City Ratner was the New York Times's business partner in the Times Tower, and the Times still (intermittently) discloses that relationship.
Posted by eric at 10:54 AM
April 21, 2010
Congressman parries bid by billionaire for basketball team
by Catherine Belton
A bid by Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire, to expand into the US sports world via the acquisition of the New Jersey Nets basketball team is running into trouble amid calls for a closer investigation of his Renaissance Capital investment bank's business dealings.
In a letter this week to the National Basketball Association, Bill Pascrell, a congressman for New Jersey, calls for a closer investigation of Renaissance Capital's alleged ties with Dmitry Kluyev, who was convicted in Russia in 2006 of illegally seizing shares in Mikhailovsky, a major metals plant.
According to legal filings made in a New York court, it is suggested that Mr Kluyev is at the heart of a fraudulent tax rebate scheme that cost the Russian state more than $330m (€245m, £214m).
"The New York filing highlights an apparent working relationship between senior executives of Renaissance and the convicted Russian . . . Dmitry Kluyev, who has been described in Russian courts as a 'business partner' of Renaissance who had 'regular dealings' with senior Renaissance executives," Mr Pascrell writes, according to a copy of the letter dated April 19. "I expect the NBA to hold its business partners to a higher standard."
Posted by eric at 12:04 PM
April 19, 2010
Pascrell responds to Stern, provides (slightly) more details about Prokhorov in Zimbabwe, raises question of ties to Russian mob
Atlantic Yards Report
Rep. Bill Pascrell, whose allegations about prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov's business dealing in pariah state Zimbabwe were brushed off by the National Basketball Association, is fighting back, questioning the league's willingness to approve the billionaire.
After being told he'd provided no information "demonstrating or even suggesting" that Prokhorov or his related companies conducts business with those on the sanctions list, Pascrell sent a letter citing "specific examples of Renaissance Capital’s business with individuals and entities that have close ties to the Mugabe regime."
Those examples were hedged as "reportedly" and he carefully asserted that Prokhorov is violating "the spirit" of the sanctions rather than formally violating them.
(I wrote last week how Renaissance Capital, of which Prokhorov owns nearly half, said its CEO specifically avoided an investment summit so as to not violate sanctions, even though a government newspaper said Renaissance Capital had confirmed its participation.)
The Russian mob?
Beyond that, Pascrell asked whether the NBA has have examined documents filed last year in the Southern District of New York alleging Renaissance Capital has had a long-standing relationship with Russian organized crime, notably ties to an alleged scheme to defraud the Russian government of $230 million (as reported by Bloomberg on 7/31/09).
No backup documents were provided regarding Pascrell's charges, though I did find an declaration from a representative of Hermitage Capital Management, which seeks to prove it was a victim of fraud.
It is unclear how seriously the Treasury Department is pursuing Pascrell's initial request that it look into Prokhorov's activities.
Pascrell also provided the NBA's response to his initial letter. Both documents are embedded below.
Posted by eric at 10:35 PM
Press Release: REP. PASCRELL RESPONDS TO NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION WITH EVIDENCE OF PROKHOROV BUSINESS DEALINGS IN ZIMBABWE, NEW ALLEGATIONS OF TIES TO ORGANIZED CRIME
Letter demanding NBA conduct a thorough investigation comes in response to letter of last week dismissing issues
PATERSON – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) today responded to the National Basketball Association with a letter outlining the public record business dealings of Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire and prospective owner of the New Jersey Nets. The letter cites specific examples of Renaissance Capital’s business with individuals and entities that have close ties to the Mugabe regime. U.S. economic sanctions in Zimbabwe have been in place since 2003.
Furthermore, the letter asks the NBA whether they have examined documents filed last year in the Southern District of New York alleging Renaissance Capital has had a long-standing relationship with Russian organized crime, and in particular, its ties to a scheme that led to the embezzlement of over $100 million from the Russian treasury.
The response from the NBA to Rep. Pascrell last week is attached.
The text of today’s letter is attached and follows below:
April 19, 2010
Mr. David J. Stern
National Basketball Association
645 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10022
Dear Mr. Stern:
I am in receipt of a letter from Mr. Joel M. Litvin, the President of League and Basketball Operations, dated April 13th in response to my inquiry regarding the National Basketball’s vetting of Mr. Mikhail Prokhorov and his reported business dealings in Zimbabwe.
I appreciate the quick nature of your reply, although I must express my disappointment in the lack of seriousness which the NBA appears to be approaching these new and troubling allegations against Mr. Prokhorov and his business affairs.
Since I was first elected to the House of Representatives, I have been a member of the Human Rights Caucus, and followed closely the devastation and suffering that the regime of Mr. Mugabe has brought upon the people of Zimbabwe. Consequently, I believe that any allegations that Mr. Prokhorov has engaged in sanction busting in Zimbabwe must be investigated with the seriousness and respect that the laws of the United States deserve.
While Mr. Prokhorov has categorically stated that he has no dealings whatsoever with anyone on the sanctions list in Zimbabwe, there is significant evidence to the contrary. He is a 50% owner of Renaissance Capital, which in June 2009, reportedly sponsored an economic forum in Harare, Zimbabwe, and offered foreign investors special access to government officials, including those on the United States’ sanctions list. Renaissance Capital is also reportedly a shareholder in CBZ Holdings, one of the largest banks in Zimbabwe. The Government of Zimbabwe is the bank’s largest shareholder.
It is clear to me that Mr. Prokhorov has violated the spirit of the sanctions the U.S. has in place against the brutal regime of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. It is unlikely that anyone can do business successfully in the Zimbabwe financial services sector without engaging the Mugabe government and its henchmen. Zimbabwe remains an emerging market with poorly defined institutional and regulatory environments which Mr. Mugabe has actively worked to dominate both politically and economically.
In addition to the concerns raised by Renaissance’s connections to the Mugabe regime, we have become aware of additional disturbing allegations made against Mr. Prokhorov’s investment bank here in the United States.
Specifically, based on documents filed last year in the Southern District of New York, it appears that Renaissance may have long-standing working relationships with Russian organized crime. The court filings in New York describe in detail Renaissance’s connection to a complex tax rebate fraud in Russia through which it is believed at least $106.9 million in taxes paid from a Renaissance-managed investment fund was later embezzled from the Russian treasury through the payment of fraudulent tax refunds. In addition, the New York filing highlights an apparent working relationship between senior executives of Renaissance and the convicted Russian mobster, Dmitri Klyuyev, who has been described in Russian courts as a “business partner” of Renaissance who had “regular dealings” with senior Renaissance executives. It is alleged that the proceeds of the $106.9 million fraud and similar schemes were ultimately channeled out of Russia via U.S. banks based in New York.
I make no judgments as to whether Mr. Prokhorov violated our laws, which is why I have asked the Secretary of the Treasury to investigate his business in Zimbabwe and make a determination.
However, your assertion that because Mr. Prokhorov is a Russian national he is immune to the laws of our land is unfounded. Mr. Prokhorov will most certainly have U.S. business interests after becoming the owner of the New Jersey Nets. Renaissance Capital operates a US subsidiary and leases office space in New York. To my knowledge, Brooklyn, not overseas, is the only possible future home for the Nets under consideration, so if Mr. Prokhorov hopes to attend games he will certainly be within the United States’ jurisdiction.
In the face of all this information, which was gathered only from public documents and press reports, I find the NBA’s apparent non-investigation of Mr. Prokhorov’s businesses very troubling. I would assume that a business relationship between a potential owner and a country subject to U.S. sanctions and links to organized crime would raise red flags in your vetting process. However, according to press reports, a Renaissance Capital spokesman has stated that the company was not even contacted by the NBA’s investigators. Your most recent letter brushes off these accusations as if they are of little importance or merit, as if the only qualification to be an owner of an NBA franchise is to not be found guilty of violating our sanctions laws.
I expect the NBA to hold its business partners to a higher standard. The NBA occupies a unique place in the public life of the United States, and every team in the league – and their owners – are holders of a special trust. The connections drawn between Russian organized crime and Mr. Prokhorov’s Russian investment bank, as well as the prior allegations of sanctions busting in Zimbabwe deserve the close scrutiny of your organization.
I would like to inquire again as to the nature of your vetting process into Mr. Prokhorov’s business and finances, and whether his business activities in Zimbabwe and his investment bank’s relationship to Russian organized crime were scrutinized by the League.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress
Posted by eric at 10:10 PM
Prokhorov takeover of Nets imminent
by Fred Kerber
Neither rain nor snow nor congressmen from New Jersey nor vacant possession rulings shall keep Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov from his appointment as the owner of the Nets.
That was NBA Commissioner David Stern's stance yesterday at his press conference following the Board of Governors meeting in Midtown, where he insisted Prokhorov passed the league's thorough background checks and now stands to gain ownership of the Nets by mid-May or June at the latest.
"Mr. Prokhorov has made it very clear to us that this is a transaction he wants very much to close. And we have no expectation other than it will close hopefully in May.
"No expectation other than it will close hopefully in May?" Not exactly strong language from the famously potty-mouthed Commish.
[If not], then it'll be June, but it's going to happen," Stern said, noting the league has delayed approval of the sale until the "vacant possession," the clearing of all residents and businesses from the Brooklyn site of the team's new arena, is settled.
Congressman William Pascrell (D-N.J.) this week called for an investigation because one of Prokhorov's firms does business in Zimbabwe. The NBA claimed Pascrell misinterpreted the law, which "doesn't apply to Mr. Prokhorov, but if it did, he would be in complete compliance."
Now the NBA is the National Bar Association, correcting federal lawmakers about federal law.
With so much awaiting the Nets -- the draft, free agency, the naming of a coach -- Stern said Prokhorov could seek "an acceleration" of the closing should vacant possession snarl.
Bergen Record, NBA may speed up approval of Mikhail Prokhorov
Stern said if the hold-up lingers because of protests regarding the Brooklyn arena site, the NBA could expedite the approval.
The Nets have to hire a coach and have all that money for free agency and need their owner to sign off on transactions.
"I think that if it got to be draft time, I think there might be an acceleration of the closing in any event, even without the vacant possession," Stern said.
"I think if I were Mr. Prokhorov, I think I would wait for vacant possession, unless it got a little bit late."
Bergen Record, Nets think big, but there are many ifs
The two biggest words in the Nets’ off-season are if and could.
If the Nets win the NBA draft lottery and get John Wall, it could improve their chances of getting LeBron James or Dwyane Wade in free agency. If James leads the Cavaliers to the title, he could leave Cleveland and his relationship with Nets part-owner Jay-Z could help the Nets land him.
Then again, if the Nets would have been in Brooklyn already, the odds of luring James would be much better.
Regardless, with new Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov expected to be onboard by July 1 and his probable dislike of the words no or ‘nyet,’ and Jay-Z expected to be involved in the recruiting of free agents and the eventual promise of Brooklyn, the Nets will make strong pitches for James and Wade.
Posted by eric at 10:14 AM
April 15, 2010
ESDC says it has no specific allegation regarding Prokhorov, notes that Ratner remains obligated to construct arena
Atlantic Yards Report
I got a response yesterday from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to questions regarding charges by New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell that prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov had violated sanctions in Zimbabwe.
I also asked whether the ESDC had ever officially approved Prokhorov's role and conducted any investigation into him.
"ESDC is unaware of any of the specific allegations, or facts, in this manner and therefore cannot respond to questions," responded spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell. "We also choose not to respond to hypothetical investigations and determinations."
"As part of the December 23, 2009 Master Closing, ESDC did recognize that the team might be sold to an entity controlled by Mr. Prohkorov – subject to review and approval by the NBA," she added. "We expect that Mr. Prohkorov will be approved by the NBA and that the team will be sold to Mr. Prohkorov in accordance with the terms of the sale agreement. Regardless of any such sale, the obligation to construct the arena will remain with Forest City Ratner (acting through their affiliates)."
Posted by lumi at 6:02 AM
Funniest man in Russia
One commenter on Atlantic Yards Report got right to the point about Atlantic Yards and prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokorov's economic activities in Zimbabwe:
The only thing in dispute is the fancy legal shenanigans of it all. But really, does the NBA want to have its image tarnished by this clear and obvious association? And further, do we want to be supporting it with our tax dollars? When we give Prokhorov money HERE, he has more to spend THERE. No doubt about that. Just ask him.
When a Russian journalist from the Prokhorov-owned SNOB magazine (the name says it all) offered the richest man in Russia a chance to respond, the flippant oligarch made Marie Antoinette look like Mother Theresa.
He jokingly told a writer for his "Snob" magazine that the charges and resultant publicity are part of "typical American phobia" regarding Russians, adding, "I was expecting something like this."
He compared himself to a character in a classic Russian comedy who is wrongly accused of robbery.
"It's the same with me and Zimbabwe," he added sarcastically. "It got me thinking, maybe I should go visit Zimbabwe, get acquainted with Mugabe."
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, In SNOB Prokhorov Jokes "Perhaps I Should Get Acquainted With Mugabe"
Сноб Медиа, Михаил Прохоров ответил на обвинения в связях с режимом Мугабе (machine translation)
Posted by lumi at 5:40 AM
April 14, 2010
Pascrell doesn't buy Prokhorov defense, but evidence regarding sanctions-busting is unclear (and one main holding may get a bye)
Atlantic Yards Report
There's nothing more definitive regarding whether a firm tied to prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has participated in sanctions-busting in Zimbabwe.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, who initiated the controversy, told The Record that he wouldn't take the denials at face value.
Still, Pascrell didn't offer any specific new information.
And while sanctions expert Usha Haley was more certain, she wasn't quoted by the Village Voice as giving specifics: "They have been working with Zimbabwe's officials that have been banned by the U.S. government — there's no doubt about that."
Field of Schemes, Prokhorov's Zimbabwe ties: Violation or loophole?
The big question here is what the U.S. Treasury Department, which has jurisdiction over sanctions law, will do, and they ain't talking. Though they do have a really impressive list of things they can do to sanctions violators, if they want.
The Star-Ledger, Good news for the NJ Nets: The season is almost over
New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. has not backed down from his charge that Mikhail Prokhorov’s relationship with Zimbabwe could be illegal, and reiterated his call for the Treasury Department to investigate whether U.S. laws were broken.
ProBasketballTalk [NBCSports.com], NBA backs Prokhorov in deal with Zimbabwe
This was never about human rights. This was never about Zimbabwe. This was about New Jersey and political aspirations.
In this case, [Congressman Bill] Pascrell is up for election this fall -- one he will likely win, he's held this seat for 14 years already. But this futile gesture was designed to get his name in the headlines fighting for New Jersey against big, bad New York and the Russian guy taking their team away. Pascrell knew this would go nowhere. However, all he had to do was write a letter and a press release and he gets his name in the paper, shows he cares about New Jersey. The rights of the oppressed in Zimbabwe have nothing to do with this. It's about an American election.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Hoops or Human Rights? Congressman Pascrell Wants Some Answers
The question is will Treasury drive to the basket? Will any elected official in New York take it to the hoop (it being a hard look at possible violations of bipartisanly created US sanctions). The question, actually, is quite simple. What's it going to be: human rights, or basketball?
Posted by eric at 10:40 AM
Russian billionaire denies Mugabe links despite CBZ shares
SW Radio Africa News
Investigations by Newsreel show that Prokhorov, through his Renaissance Capital investment bank, snapped up a significant shareholding in the government owned Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Holdings in 2007. The shares were bought from South Africa’s ABSA. The following year in 2008 they purchased a further 15 percent stake in CBZ, buying shares from the Libyan Arab Bank. Analysts at the time said Renaissance Capital was consolidating its shareholding in CBZ through block share purchasing.
The saving grace for Prokhorov, as exiled investment banker Gilbert Muponda explains, is that CBZ Holdings is not on the US targeted sanctions list.
Posted by eric at 10:29 AM
April 13, 2010
Pascrell not buying Prokhorov denial of Zimbabwe dealings
by John Brennan
Rep. Bill Pascrell fired back Tuesday at a statement by a company run by billionaire Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, denying that it had business dealings in Zimbabwe.
He said he still wants Treasury officials to investigate the matter, and he also criticized the National Basketball Association’s vetting of Prokhorov, who is considered the richest man in Russia.
“It is reasonable to hold the NBA accountable to do what they said they would do — actually investigate Mr. Prokhorov and his business affairs, and determine whether or not he is worthy of owning an American franchise,” Pascrell said in a statement. “The latest news would lead us to conclude he may not. I have a feeling this will play out like so many basketball games - both sides will go back and forth, and it will be the final few plays that determine the outcome.”
NoLandGrab: Prokhorov better hope it doesn't play out like a Nets' basketball game, in which case, he could be cooked with five minutes to go in the 2nd quarter.
Posted by eric at 11:29 PM
War of Words Heats Up Over Prokhorov's Zimbabwegate
by Neil deMause
It's Day Three of the Great Zimbabwe Flap, and the rhetoric over a New Jersey Congressman's challenge to Russian bazillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets is heating up. Prokhorov fired back at Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-My-Constituents-Don't-Want-to-Drive-Through-Two-Tunnels-to-Watch-the-Nets-Lose) yesterday, calling the charges that he'd violated economic sanctions against Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe "erroneous," and saying that "we have no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list."
The NBA — which has already put on hold Prokhorov's approval as the new Nets majority owner (and minority owner of the planned Barclays Center arena) until the state figures out how to unchain Freddy's patrons and clear the arena site — chimed in that Prokhorov was fine in their book, issuing a statement reading in part: "U.S. companies are not prohibited from doing business in Zimbabwe; rather, they are prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country. The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities."
To at least one sanctions expert, though, Prokhorov's Zimbabwe dealings are far from trivial. Usha Haley, an Economic Policy Institute research associate who told the Post that Prokhorov was engaged in "sanctions-busting," tells Runnin' Scared that she doesn't buy the metals magnate's defense: "They have been working with Zimbabwe's officials that have been banned by the U.S. government — there's no doubt about that."
Read on for much more with Haley about Prokhorov and Mugabe and how companies and rogue nations skirt sanctions. deMause concludes:
If Prokhorov were somehow sidelined, however, it would likely lead to the demise of the entire Atlantic Yards deal, since his cash is key to Bruce Ratner's razor-thin margins. The betting lines still have to have this as a longshot, but stranger things have killed development deals in this town.
Posted by eric at 2:29 PM
NBA, Prokhorov's firm fire back on Zimbabwe issue; contradiction over report on Harare summit (and did the ESDC check?)
Atlantic Yards Report
Norman Oder rounds up all the news about Zimbabwe, including conflicting reports about the whereabouts of a Prokhorov manager, denials from the NBA, Bruce Ratner's claim that "everything is in great shape" and what the ESDC knew and when did they know it.
On Sunday, the New York Post broke the news that New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, who'd previously asked the NBA to investigate Mikhail Prokhorov and obviously doesn't want the Nets to leave his state, asked the U.S. Treasury Department to investigate whether the investment bank Renaissance Capital--of which Prokhorov's firm Onexim owns nearly half--violated U.S. sanctions in dealing with Zimbabwe.
"Mr. Prokhorov reportedly controls nearly 50% of the investment bank, which recently sponsored an economic summit in Zimbabwe this past February on behalf of the government," Pascrell said in a letter.
On a weekend, that generated a lot of heat, but not much light. The Treasury Department sanctions don't apply to all business in Zimbabwe, just with certain persons and entities.
I asked the ESDC Sunday if it had any response to Pascrell's charges and whether the agency had ever officially approved Prokhorov's role and conducted any investigation into him.
I haven't gotten a response yet.
New Jersey legislator Bill Pascrell Jr. is calling for an inquiry that into the sale of the Nets because prospective owner Mikhail Prokhorov may or may not have done business with reigning Dictator of the Year, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Of course.
Rep. Pascrell may be onto something, or he may just be a Congressman from New Jersey that doesn't want whatever cash the Nets generate for the state going to Flatbush and Atlantic in Brooklyn. Whatever the case, I think we can now say that Mikhail Prokhorov is a phenomenon the likes of which the NBA has never seen. If he's not flying models into some remote alpine resort, he's canoodling with one of the worst people in the world. The guy makes Donald Sterling look like George Bailey.
NY Post, NBA backs Nets buyer
The NBA threw an elbow at a New Jersey congressman yesterday, claiming he was "misinformed" when he blasted the Russian billionaire who wants to buy the Nets over his business dealings in Zimbabwe.
[NBA spokesman Mike] Bass said there's no indication Prokhorov dealt with any of those people or entities. Prokhorov's representatives said his company has always strictly complied with US rules regarding Zimbabwe.
NoLandGrab: And who wants to bet "there's no indication" the NBA has any clue about whom Prokhorov's companies did or didn't have dealings with?
SportsBusiness Daily, Ratner, NBA Dispute Claims About Mikhail Prokhorov's Zimbabwe Ties
Nets Owner Bruce Ratner yesterday said that he is confident his sale of the franchise to Mikhail Prokhorov and the team's planned move to Brooklyn "will both go through...."
NLG: By "confident" Ratner means "crossing his fingers."
Posted by eric at 1:40 PM
April 12, 2010
Nothin’ but nyet! Jersey lawmaker says Ratner’s savior is illegally in bed with Mugabe!
The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown
Bruce Ratner’s sale of his financially troubled Brooklyn-bound New Jersey Nets hit a major obstacle on Sunday as a New Jersey congressman brought a full court press of allegations involving the would-be new owner’s shady business dealings in Zimbabwe.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D–New Jersey) is demanding that the federal Treasury Department investigate Mikhail Prokhorov’s investments in the notorious rogue nation — which may constitute a violation of U.S. sanctions against Robert Mugabe’s regime.
“This is of great concern,” Pascrell told Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in a letter dated April 11. “Mr. Prokhorov has extensive business dealings in the United States, including his most-recent efforts to purchase the New Jersey Nets. … Zimbabwe is ruled under a brutal, autocratic and repressive regime.”
The United States’ strict sanctions — renewed by President Obama last year — forbid people with interests in the U.S. from also conducting most types of business in Zimbabwe.
A spokesman for Forest City Ratner had no comment. A spokesman for Prokhorov did not return a phone call and e-mail.
Daily Transom [NYObserver.com], Yet Another Twist to Atlantic Yards
Just when it looks like the Atlantic Yards deal couldn't possibly be derailed--when even the Nets' new owner brandishing his Kalashnikov to 60 Minutes isn't enough to dissuade the N.B.A. from taking him--there comes this, from the Post.
Apparently, Mikhail Prokhorov might have ties to Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe, and a New Jersey congressman wants to know all about it.
Bruce Ratner's nightmare continues.
Can't Stop The Bleeding, Zimbabwe Illegit: New Nets Owner Has Business Experience In Place Even More Corrupt Than Jersey
Of course, Prokhorov isn’t an American citizen. And double-of-course this sadly probably isn’t going to do anything to impact the creepy oligarch’s ownership of the Nets or the development of Bruce Ratner’s redevelopment of South Brooklyn — architecture critics have already dubbed the ambitious underhaul “Little Tampa,” at least in my mind. It’ll take a lot more than dealing with the monster who absolutely shredded the country he helped create to disqualify a very rich man from buying a franchise in the NBA. The difficult part is coming up with what that could possibly be, short of not having enough money.
The Source [WSJ Blog], Of Billionaires, Basketball and Banned Investments
Could a New Zealand financier’s investments in an African dictatorship derail a lanky Russian billionaire’s dream of owning a U.S. basketball team?
In response to questions from The Source, Renaissance Capital replied with the following statement:
Renaissance Capital is fully aware of the sanctions imposed by the United States on certain Zimbabwean persons and companies and takes its compliance obligations extremely seriously. Contrary to erroneous reports in the press, we have at all times strictly complied with all laws and have no relationship with sanctioned individuals or companies.
SW Radio Africa News, Mugabe, the Russian billionaire and basketball
Exiled investment banker, Gilbert Muponda, is familiar with Renaissance Capital’s involvement in Zimbabwe and told Newsreel; ‘They specialize in emerging markets that have a high return, but high risks, and they are experts at quantifying and spreading risk.’ He told us although the company did what any investment bank would do (i.e. seek opportunities) this was in violation of US targeted sanctions and the lawmakers in that country had a good case to charge them.
Found In Brooklyn, Dasvidania to Atlantic Yards Investor Mikhail Prokhorov?
Will an investigation lead to Prokhorov leaving the Atlantic Yards project? We can only hope! The whole project has reeked of corruption from day one yet somehow is a project funded by the taxpayers who will end up with nothing but a sports complex instead of a neighborhood.
ESPN New York with AP, NBA OK with Prokhorov's deals in Africa
The NBA is standing by its (very rich) man.
Prospective New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov came to his own defense Tuesday and was backed by the NBA after a congressman accused the Russian billionaire's company of violating sanctions and U.S. law by doing business with the government of Zimbabwe.
"Onexim Group takes very seriously the issue of law and sanctions as applied to Zimbabwe," Prokhorov said in a statement released through his company during the Nets' final game at the Meadowlands. "Contrary to erroneous media reports, the company and all of its holdings have always been in strict compliance with all United States and European rules regarding Zimbabwe and have had no dealings whatsoever with companies or individuals on the sanctions list."
"Onexim Group and Mikhail Prokhorov have been open and transparent about all their business dealings throughout the extensive NBA review process, and they intend to maintain this position going forward," the statement said.
International human rights law expert and NBA spokesman Mike Bass attempted to set the record straight.
"Congressman Pascrell is misinformed," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. "U.S. companies are not prohibited from doing business in Zimbabwe; rather, they are prohibited from conducting business with specifically identified individuals or entities in that country. The NBA is aware of no information that Mr. Prokhorov is engaged in business dealings with any of these individuals or entities.
"Mr. Prokhorov's application is still on track to be voted on by the NBA Board of Governors once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site," Bass said.
Posted by eric at 11:45 PM
Congressman's Letters to Timothy Geithner and David Stern on Prokhorov and Zimbabwe
via Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Press Release from NJ Congressman Bill Pascrell:
Rep. Pascrell Calls Upon Treasury Department To Investigate Mikhail Prokhorov's Business Dealings In Zimbabwe; Asks Nba Commissioner If Issue Was Raised During Vetting Of Russian Billionaire Vying To Buy The N.J. Nets
Prokhorov's interests in Zimbabwe in violation of U.S. sanctions, according to The New York Post
PATERSON—U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8) today called upon U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to investigate would-be New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov upon revelations in today's edition of The New York Post that the Russian billionaire has been doing business in Zimbabwe. Prokhorov's dealings in the nation oppressed by dictator Robert Mugabe's regime are in apparent violation of U.S. economic sanctions that have been in place since 2003.
The congressman also wrote today to NBA Commissioner David Stern asking if the basketball league became aware of Prokhorov's business interests in Zimbabwe during the thorough background check it pledged to conduct.
Click thru for the full text of the letters.
Posted by eric at 11:38 PM
N.J. lawmaker seeks investigation into Mikhail Prokhorov's business ties, Nets ownership deal could be threatened
by Dave D'Alessandro
Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-Passaic) has fired the first political torpedo aimed at Mikhail’s Prokhorov’s purchase of the Nets, and it is directed at the Russian’s business relationship with the corrupt and repressive government of Zimbabwe.
Pascrell, admittedly opposed to the Nets’ move to Brooklyn in two years, has asked the Treasury Department to investigate the ties between Prokhorov’s corporation, Onexim, with the African nation, which has been under U.S. sanctions for seven years for human-rights violations.
It is a violation of federal law for American citizens and companies or their subsidiaries to do business with Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.
NY Post, Pol whistles Nets owner
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should investigate Mikhail Prokhorov's association with Zimbabwe's oppressive regime before the Russian billionaire is allowed to purchase the Nets and move them to Brooklyn, a New Jersey congressman said yesterday.
"I would respectfully request that you investigate all of Mr. Prokhorov's business dealings in Zimbabwe, specifically the February 2010 economic summit, and whether they violate the United States' sanctions regime against the country," Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) wrote in a letter to Geithner.
"The government of Zimbabwe suppresses freedom of speech and assembly, and reportedly restricts access to food in opposition areas," he said.
"This is disgusting," Pascrell said, according to the Post. "Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal."
NoLandGrab: Actually, the NBA did do their job properly, which was to approve Prokhorov no matter what. What they didn't do properly was the job.
National Legal and Policy Center, Prokhorov NBA Bid Gets Scrutiny; ACORN-Funder Ratner Needs Russian Billionaire to Build Brooklyn Arena
Ratner’s plans rely not only on Prokhorov’s investment but also on millions of dollars in tax breaks and a $400-million naming deal for the arena, to be known as Barclays Center. Barclays is Britain’s second largest bank. It seems like a variety of interests win if Ratner’s project is built. But they do not include ordinary Brooklynites, or the already-overextended American taxpayer.
New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell is demanding a government inquiry into hopeful Nets buyer Mikhail Prokhorov's business dealings in Zimbabwe, which Pascrell says might have violated federal rules. Between that and the postponement of the NBA's vote on the sale of the Nets, Prokhorov's probably wishing he had that meditation chamber built already.
The Brooklyn Ink, POSSIBLE TIES TO ZIMBABWEAN DICTATOR MIGHT DELAY NETS MOVE TO BROOKLYN
Though the NBA insists he’s completely vetted, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is facing increased scrutiny by a Congressman who questions his company’s business dealings with Zimbabwe.
NetsAreScorching, NETS ON THE NET: 4/12/10 EDITION
The NBA thus far has not commented on the newest accusation that an investment bank owned by Mikhail Prokhorov’s firm Onexim, did business with the U.S.-sanctioned Zimbabwe.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, NBA, Nets, Prokhorov & Ratner Mum on Zimbabwe Sanctions Busting Story. Geithner Asked to Investigate
It should be noted that in 2001 all of New York's Congressional delegation voted for the sanctions. And two elected officials who have now moved on to higher places were amongst the bill's four co-sponsors—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.
Wonder what they would think if it becomes clear that there has been a whitewash to allow Prokhorov to flout US laws.
Posted by eric at 9:34 AM
April 11, 2010
It came from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn...
It appears that the US Treasury Department's sanctions do not allow the kind of business connections prospective Nets owner and prospective 45% owner of the Barclays Center Arena has with Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is considered by many to be one of the world's worst tyrants and the US has sanctioned him for this. It appears that Bruce Ratner's partner in the whole Atlantic Yards boondoggle has violated these laws.
Whether or not Mr. Prokhorov's extensive holdings in Zimbabwe—in light of his involvement with an American business enterprise—violate US law, remains to be seen. But clearly his involvement with the Nets, Ratner, New York City and State is unsavory.
Because of this, Ratner's project must come to a complete halt until the results of a federal inquiry into potential sanction violations by Mr. Prokhorov are known.
And the NBA must come forth and explain if they simply missed this information in its Prokhorov vetting process (and why?) or saw it and ignored it. Whether the latter or the former, David Stern has a lot of explaining to do.
On April 8th, in The Star Ledger, NBA President Joel Litvin said:
"[Barclays Center Arena] Site possession is the only thing impacting the timing of the [NBA's] vote [on Prokhorov's ownership of the Nets]. The documentation of the Nets’ purchase and the background investigation of Mr. Prokhorov have been complete for some time."
Well, Mr. Litvin's basketball cartel may have completed its investigation of Prokhorov, but it clearly forgot to look at certain things or ignored some big red flags out of desperaton to land the billionaire's big bucks.
It's not a good week to be NBA commissioner David Stern, whose background check on Mikhail Prokhorov appears to have been as porous as the Nets 2010 defense.
Posted by eric at 10:54 PM
Sanction-busting Investigation Could Threaten Nets Deal, Atlantic Yards
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) tells the Post that he's requesting a Treasury Department investigation to see if Mikhail Prokhorov, the russian investor who's trying to buy stakes in both the Nets and the planned Nets Arena in Brooklyn, has violated Bush-era sanctions against doing business with associates of Robert Mugabe and his government in Zimbabwe. Prokhorov's Onexim Group, which has offices in the United States, holds a 50% stake in Renaissance Capital, which has extensive holdings in Zimbabwe.
This is not good news for Bruce Ratner, who is depending on Prokhorov's investment to get his Atlantic Yards project built.
Mikhail Prokhorov's plan to buy the New Jersey Nets may be put on hold as officials look into his possible Zimbabwean holdings. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of the Ways and Mean Committee will look into whether Prokhorov's companies in Zimbabwe violate rules that forbid American citizens, companies, and subsidiaries from doing business with President Robert Mugabe, known for his frequent human rights violations.
Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital investment bank has interests in various Zimbabwean companies and banks, and was the financial sponsor of an economic forum in Zimbabwe, which is a violation of the sanctions.
These violations could cause a block on the Nets deal, which could mean trouble for the Atlantic Yards project, which has already been delayed by eminent-domain lawsuits.
The Huffington Post, The NBA's Dirty Partner
With an estimated worth of $13 billion, Prokhorov is currently the richest man in Russia. But there are nice ways to get a billion dollars and there are not nice ways to get a billion dollars. One classic not so nice way is you deal with people nobody else will deal with. Like, for instance, Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe.
One could argue that if Prokhorov wants to profit by doing business with Mugabe, well, that's his business. Unless he wants to do business here in the United States. where it happens to be illegal. The United States slapped sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2003. In 2008, sanctions were further strengthened by that old softie on human rights, President George W. Bush.
So, Mugabe must be pretty bad. But how bad?
Last year, Mugabe was rated the worst dictator in the world by Parade magazine (not exactly a left leaning bleeding heart publication.) His government denies voters their rights, brutalizes the opposition, censors the press, abuses women, inducts children into the army, and criminalizes homosexuality. His regime has a record of torturing students, journalists, even Americans. His country is recognized as one of the global leaders in the trafficking of human lives for forced labor and sexual exploitation. His nation is a place where human rights activists disappear forever.
Shorter answer: Mugabe is very bad.
Ironically, one of the reasons the U.S. government finally cracked down on Mugabe was because of his regime's habit of "government backed land grabs." It seems the Russian oligarch might actually find this kind of behavior attractive, since the Atlantic Yards project he's investing in here is the worst government backed land grab to hit New York since they buried Robert Moses.
NBC Sports, Prokhorov guilty of skirting sanctions?
American businesses and their associates are prohibited from dealing with the repressive, widely condemned regime of Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe. Pascrell notes that the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is "financed partly by the taxpayer," and this inquiry (if it happens) could seriously complicate what had been a smooth vetting process.
The NBA hasn't directly responded to Pascrell's charge its investigation of Prokhorov -- compulsory with every change in team ownership -- was "disgusting." In a statement given to The Post Saturday and reiterated to FanHouse Sunday, a league spokesman defended the background check, calling it "very extensive and stringent" and reiterating that nothing disclosed caused the NBA pause in its recommendation of approval to the other 29 team owners. Prokhorov needs 23 of 29 votes to be approved by the league.
When asked Sunday by FanHouse whether Pascrell had asked the league to re-open its investigation of Prokhorov or deny Prokhorov's ownership bid outright, NBA officials declined to comment. The NBA also declined to answer questions on who ran the background check, whether the background check for Prokhorov was undertaken with any more depth than those used for previous ownership bids, or whether the league planned to re-open its investigation.
Fox Sports, Nets ownership deal may be in trouble
Battle of Brooklyn via Kickstarter, It ain't over till it's over
We are continuing to make progress on our cut.
Meanwhile...... things are not looking good for the project.
Posted by eric at 10:29 PM
Tycoon's tyrant ties threaten Nets deal
New York Post
By Isable Vincent and Melissa Klein
A New Jersey congressman says he will demand a government inquiry into Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire poised to buy the New Jersey Nets, for his extensive business dealings in Zimbabwe -- a bombshell that could blow up the $200 million team deal and threaten the future of Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, The Post has learned.
Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, wants to know if companies controlled by Prokhorov in Zimbabwe violate federal rules that forbid American citizens and companies, and subsidiaries set up in the United States, from doing business with brutal strongman Robert Mugabe, his regime or associates.
"This is disgusting," Pascrell said. "Obviously, the Board of Governors of the NBA didn't do their job properly when they vetted this deal."
He said the project received tax-exempt bonds.
"It's being financed partly by the taxpayer, and the public has a right to know," he said.
Prokhorov's Renaissance Capital investment bank has interests in the Zimbabwean stock exchange, banks, a cellphone company, mining and a swanky, private big-game reserve. The company is intertwined with Onexim, the $25 billion Prokhorov-controlled investment fund behind the deal to bring the struggling NBA team to Brooklyn.
Pascrell said he will ask the Treasury Department, which oversees the sanctions, to investigate Onexim. In 2008, Onexim became a 50 percent owner of Renaissance Capital, which has been actively investing in Zimbabwe since 2007.
According to its Web site, Renaissance Capital has offices in Manhattan and was the financial sponsor of an economic forum in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare that provided foreign investors special access to government ministers in June 2009 -- which experts say is a violation of the sanctions.
In February, the company's Africa-based CEO, Andrew Lowe, participated in a business panel with a Zimbabwean official banned from entering the United States.
"Looks like sanctions-busting to me," said Usha Haley, an expert on US sanctions at the Economic Policy Institute.
If the department steps in to block the Net deal, it could cause major problems for developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards development project.
NBA Commissioner David Stern recently told "60 Minutes" that Prokhorov passed a background check and "nobody has come up with any reason why he shouldn't be an NBA owner."
"Mr. Prokhorov went through a very extensive and stringent vetting process," a league spokesman told The Post yesterday. "The background and financial investigations have been completed, and there was nothing that was disclosed that would cause us not to move forward with his application for Nets ownership."
But a spokesman for Renaissance Capital in Moscow told The Post that the question of Prokhorov's dealings in Zimbabwe did not come up during the NBA security checks.
It's not over 'til it's over, apparently.
The formal transfer of the New Jersey Nets to a new majority owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, has been delayed from the previously-announced mid-April date because the state does not have "vacant possession" of the part of the Atlantic Yards site needed for the initial phase.
But there's a much bigger potential wrench into the deal. A New Jersey Congressman's request for an investigation of Prokhorov's business dealings in international pariah Zimbabwe, according to a New York Post exclusive, "could blow up the $200 million team deal."
That's hardly clear; we must see what the Treasury Department, which oversees sanctions regarding Zimbabwe, has to say.
Rep. Bill Pascrell has previously asked the National Basketball Association (NBA) to investigate Prokhorov's fitness to buy the Nets, but the NBA found nothing amiss. Of course, the NBA has reason to welcome a deep-pocketed owner who can help internationalize the game.
Posted by steve at 7:53 AM
Nets rookie Terrence Williams gets lesson, boost from Bucks veteran Jerry Stackhouse
By Dave D'Alessandro
The following item can be found in the "Notes" section of this Nets article:
The Nets are not making any official comment about the league’s decision to wait out the site possession issue at Atlantic Yards before approving of the regime change. But some team officials fear that the ownership transfer to Mikhail Prokhorov could take weeks, if not spill over into the summer, as the legal process runs its course.
Posted by steve at 7:38 AM
April 10, 2010
Nets Seek Lebron James, Rights to Brooklyn Stadium Location
Sports Fans Coallition
Would-be owner of the New Jersey Nets Mikhail Prokhorov has wasted no time in declaring his intent to sign Duke Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski for an astounding $14 million a year to take the bottom-feeders of the NBA to the top. Likewise, this bull in a china shop has bought his tickets to the Lebron James sweepstakes this off-season hoping to sign the free agent in time to name the new stadium ‘the house that James built’.
The only problem with that dream scenario for the Russian Billionaire who would stand to become the first overseas owner of an NBA franchise is that the property in Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards, is not yet in the hands of the state of New York. A vote by the collective NBA ownership was set to take place this week, but was delayed a week due to this all important detail.
According to the NY Times, “Mr. Prokhorov is paying $200 million for 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of Barclays Center, the team’s arena that is being built near downtown Brooklyn as part of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project. He will also finance up to $60 million of Nets losses until they move into the arena and be responsible for 80 percent of the team’s debt of $207 million.”
All that appears to be on the up and up until you read how the state of New York is fighting to take people’s land to get the deal done. New York residents’ tax dollars at work indeed.
Posted by steve at 8:41 AM
April 9, 2010
NBA: No Nets sale until land is in hand
Field of Schemes
The NBA Board of Governors announced yesterday that it will likely postpone next week's scheduled vote on Mikhail Prokhorov as new majority owner of the New Jersey Nets until the state of New York has acquired all the land for the team's planned Brooklyn arena. "The Board will vote on Mr. Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site, which the team expects to occur in the near future," said league official Joel Litvin.
For those scoring at home, there's still one lawsuit pending against state seizure by eminent domain of several properties, charging that the Atlantic Yards development plan has changed so much since 2006 that the state's original eminent domain justification is no longer valid. Oral arguments take place Monday morning; check Atlantic Yards Report for up-to-the-minute reports.
Posted by eric at 10:31 AM
April 8, 2010
Nets ownership transfer to Mikhail Prokhorov delayed again
by Dave D'Alessandro
The NBA won’t approve Mikhail Prokhorov’s purchase of the Nets after all -- at least not next week, anyway.
The vote by the Board of Governors, originally scheduled for Friday, April 16th, will be postponed until the site-possession issue is resolved, because tenants have yet to vacate the area within the footprint of the Atlantic Yards project that includes the $800 million Barclays Center.
And there is still no clear timetable with which to clear that barrier, however, according to NBA President Joel Litvin.
“The Board will vote on Mr. Prokhorov's purchase of the Nets once a firm date is set for the State of New York to take full possession of the arena site, which the team expects to occur in the near future,” Litvin said.
“Site possession is the only thing impacting the timing of the vote. The documentation of the Nets' purchase and the background investigation of Mr. Prokhorov have been complete for some time."
Once the Nets and Prokhorov achieve what is known as “vacant possession,” the league is expected to hold their ratifying vote via teleconference or e-mail.
The Brooklyn Blog [NYPost.com], Atlantic Yards holdouts holding up Nets sale to Russian billionaire
The NBA Board of Governors yesterday announced it was indefinitely postponing its scheduled April 16 vote on developer Bruce Ratner’s sale of majority interest in the struggling franchise to Russia’s second-richest man because a few holdouts have yet to buckle to the state’s use of eminent domain to take their homes and businesses to build the $800 million Brooklyn arena.
AP via NESN.com, Vote on Sale of Nets to Mikhail Prokhorov Will Probably Be Delayed
Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov is probably going to have to wait a little longer before becoming the new owner of the New Jersey Nets.
Prokhorov agreed last December to buy 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the new arena from Bruce Ratner's Forest City Ratner Cos.
The Nets have endured a dreadful season, posting an 11-67 mark with four games left in the regular season, clinching at least a tie for the worst record in the league this season.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nyet to Nets
Despite a report that soon-to-be Nets owner Vladimir Prokhorov was willing to pay him between $12-15 million per year, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski refused to express any interest in taking the job.
Krzyzewski said in a statement prior to leading the Blue Devils past Butler in Monday’s NCAA Championship classic that “you would be flattered if someone would offer you a job, but I would not be interested.”
Attention Brooklyn Daily Eagle! See the stories above so you don't repeat the error below (which we've helpfully underlined):
Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who is expected to officially take over Nets ownership from Downtown developer Bruce Ratner next week, is determined to bring a big-name coach to the franchise prior to its expected arrival in Brooklyn by 2012.
Posted by eric at 10:46 PM
April 6, 2010
Kremlin Control of Russian Internet Rising, OSC Says
by Steven Aftergood
The Russian-language internet is increasingly subject to control by the Russian government and its allies in the private sector, according to a new report (pdf) from the DNI Open Source Center (OSC). Except for a vocal minority of bloggers and human rights activists, the Russian public is mostly indifferent to or even supportive of government controls on the internet, the OSC report said.
“Over the last several years, pro-government oligarchs have accumulated significant stakes in the leading portals of the Russian Internet [or Runet]. Between them, they own the majority of the most popular Russian social networking sites and the majority of the most popular Russian websites,” the OSC found.
“While media outlets owned by government companies have not yet shown signs of censorship, the leadership and owners of these Russian investment companies are close to the Kremlin and may be willing to cede their business interests to government priorities,” the OSC report said.
So, for example, “Oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who is known to cooperate with the Kremlin, owns RosBiznesKonsalting (RBC), which has been quietly gobbling up Russian Internet (Runet) domains, holding 21% of the Runet’s sites, according to its last annual report in 2007, including Loveplanet.ru, the second-most popular online dating service in the Runet.”
NoLandGrab: Ha! Mikhail Prokhorov might own 21% of Russia's internet, but he'll never get his hands on NoLandG...bzzzz...bzzzz...ZZZZZAAAAPPPPP!...мы хотели бы предложить извинения Брюс Ратнер.
Не все гласности Михаил Прохоров получил на этой неделе была положительной. "Доклад тайне" опубликовал анализ американской разведки, предлагая Прохоров и другие олигархи помогают получить контроль Кремля Интернета в России.
Posted by eric at 11:16 PM
April 5, 2010
NBA executives having trouble gauging prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov
by Dave D'Alessandro
Rumors that pending Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is prepared to offer Duke University men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski $15 million dollars a year has NBA insiders perplexed.
Until then, he has succeeded in confusing the opposition, judging by the outlook of three chief executives — all presidential-level NBA men requesting anonymity so that they can offer candid opinions about Nets business — who aren’t sure whether Prokhorov is bold, publicity hungry or stupid.
“With so much rumor and speculation going on with this guy, I have problems with the legitimacy of anything before he takes control of the team,” one executive said. “First they were going after Jerry Colangelo. Then they were hiring the Toronto GM (Mauricio Gherardini). They’ve already hired and fired three coaches, from what I’ve read. I don’t think they have anything remotely close to a strategy, but I know this much: If it’s not Rod Thorn who’s formulating it, they already have problems.”
“The Nets are different,” the second executive said. “They can’t sell their history, or even loyalty, since they’re moving to Brooklyn in two years and might take 5 percent of their fans with them. So they need something to hang their hats on. I think they know they have to overspend somewhere — that’s just the way it will be — and the coach might be the place to do it.”
NoLandGrab: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Five percent of their fans? Claims of big Atlantic Yards economic benefits are rooted in the preposterous claim that 30% of Nets ticket buyers (a critically endangered species) will follow the team to Brooklyn.
Posted by eric at 11:54 PM
April 4, 2010
New Net Ready to Dig Deep
by Jason Keidel
In about two weeks, the NBA will approve the sale of the New Jersey Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, extending David Stern's dream of infusing the league with international money and flavor.
Mr. Prokhorov promises to invest in the franchise, which stands in stark relief against Bruce Ratner, the penurious owner whose primary goal was to buy land in Brooklyn for the team rather than procure top talent for the team.
NoLandGrab: Land, we might add, which in some cases wasn't for sale.
Posted by eric at 10:08 PM
April 2, 2010
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov making smart moves as he starts rebuilding New Jersey Nets
by Mitch Lawrence
Mikhail Prokhorov has yet to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors, but that hasn't stopped him from becoming the Best. NBA. Owner. Ever. Or maybe it's just that he isn't Bruce C. Ratner.
Smart guy, that Mikhail Prokhorov.
"They should be excited about the new owner," said Phoenix's Steve Nash, after the Suns' win in the Meadowlands on Wednesday night. "He's got incredibly deep pockets, and, in many ways, a positive attitude as far as spending. I think he will build a winner. If you have money and you're a good businessman and you're willing to spend, you can be successful. It seems that teams will struggle when they're not willing to spend."
Don't remind the Nets of that kind of owner. They had one in Bruce Ratner, king of the penny-pinchers. But now they get Prokhorov, richer than rich, and a smart guy to boot.
Posted by eric at 12:11 PM
March 31, 2010
Prokhorov, Round 2: more insight from the Bloomberg TV interview, which barely lays a glove on him
Atlantic Yards Report
Well, 60 Minutes got to him first, but Russian mogul Mikhail Prokhorov's other TV profile/long interview, with Bloomberg TV (excerpted below) and the print Bloomberg Markets/Bloomberg Business Week, is well worth watching.
Here are some of the takeaways:
- It's possible to interview Prokhorov without a Steve Kroft grin on your face
- It's possible to ask Prokhorov semi-tough questions but avoid bigger ones
- Prokhorov, despite his insider connections, considers himself a "self-made man"
- He claims not to have political power but is "just a businessman"
- As with the Barclays naming rights deal, Prokhorov seeks to leverage Brooklyn to gain himself a platform in the United States ("we can create excellent business unit")
- Prokhorov was well-prepped for the media blitz, calling money just "a side effect" of business and floating the same reference to Sinatra's "New York, New York"
- Still, he claimed not to remember spending some $19,000 on lunch at Nello in New York
- When asked about the four days he was jailed in France on suspicion of bringing in prostitutes, he didn't assert (as on 60 Minutes) that it was fun but explained he'd been in the Soviet Army
- Prokhorov invites footage of his kickboxing workout
- He installed a basketball court just for the sake of his Bloomberg interview
- A basketball was strategically placed on the shelf behind him
- The Internets--not for him; he uses neither a cell phone nor a computer
- The more impressed by Prokhorov, the taller he is reported to be (6'7" to Bloomberg/BW, 6'8" to 60 Minutes, 6'9" to New York Magazine's Will Leitch)
Below is an excerpt. Bloomberg TV offers a profile as well as a full interview, about a half-hour.
Bloomberg.com, Prokhorov Interview
Click the link for video of the full Bloomberg TV interview.
Stephanie Baker and Yuriy Humber for the athletic feat of reporting Mikhail Prokhorov’s all-win business career without detecting a single foul, penalty, or loss.
Posted by eric at 10:50 AM
March 29, 2010
More Russian (Window) Dressing
The Sports Section [NYMag.com], Mikhail Prokhorov Reminds You of What Is Coming
The real news was Mikhail Prokhorov's interview with 60 Minutes, which did little to stop us from thinking he's going to be our city's 21st century Steinbrenner. In fact, we wrote a whole column about it for the magazine this week. Enjoy kicking these Nets around while you can, Knicks fans. They won't look like this for long.
New York Magazine, The Miracle Nets
As much agita as the Knicks have caused their fans this season, it’s nothing compared to the pain in East Rutherford. The team lost its first eighteen games (a league record), has employed four different coaches, is last in the NBA in attendance by a substantial margin (the Nets barely outdraw the WNBA’s New York Liberty), and needs two wins in its final eleven games to avoid the 1972–73 Philadelphia 76ers’ mark of 9-73. For a franchise as traditionally inept as the Nets, this, at last, is the nadir.
But those are all just roster machinations, the front-office push-pull that every team goes through; change, sure, but not metamorphosis. The real Nets transformation is on the executive and geographical levels. This team is about to get Ivan Drago–ed.
Prepare yourself, New York, for the force of nature that is Mikhail Prokhorov: The next-generation George Steinbrenner is a six-foot-nine Russian bachelor billionaire with a taste for the nightlife, metal music, and $19,000 lunches on the Upper East Side.
Bruce Ratner might have only wanted the Nets as a residential-zoning bargaining chip, but he’s set Prokhorov up for an easy alley-oop. Prokhorov is buying into a perfect situation, and he doesn’t even have to be seen as the bad guy: Ratner was the one on all the protest signs, not him.
NoLandGrab: To be fair, he was on some of the protest signs. Something about Russia's richest man being the beneficiary of eminent domain seizures and hundreds of millions of dollars in state and city subsidies.
Last week, we pondered whether software tycoon Larry Ellison would soon become the NBA's craziest billionaire owner. Not a chance, once Mike "Mad Dog" Prokhorov suits up for the New Jersey Nets.
Prokhorov got his start selling acid-washed jeans in the late '80's (seriously) and then worked his way up through financial circles until he and a partner "won" a rigged auction to buy a gigantic mining operation from the state.
NLG: Very reminiscent of Bruce Ratner "winning" a rigged auction to buy the Vanderbilt railyard and then renegotiating the payment terms with the money-starved MTA when he couldn't come up with the cash at closing.
Daily Transom [Observer.com], More Mikhail! Meet the New Nets Owner, Over and Over Again
He tells all three outlets that he's not an oligarch, but it's Bloomberg TV's Ryan Chilcote who grills him on how he made his money. Asked how he was able to avoid the country's corruption, Mr. Prokhorov replies: "Do you know the difference between a rat and a hamster?" And then answer it himself: "A hamster has better p.r."
NLG: Presumably, Chilcote meant Russia's corruption. Does this mean we have to start calling the Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Hamsterner?
Deal Journal [WSJ Blog], A Russian Oligarch Buys Low in Brooklyn
Mikhail Prokhorov knows a good trade when he sees one.
Will he be as lucky with his deal to purchase 80% of the New Jersey Nets and a 45% stake in the team’s soon to be built stadium in Brooklyn for $200 million?
He’s certainly buying low in terms of quality. The Nets are the worst team in the NBA.
Can't Stop The Bleeding, Mikhail Prokhorov Is Very Ready For His Close Up
It’s been quite a whirlwind media tour for Russian zillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, aspiring owner of the Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. Profiled last night on CBS’ “60 Minutes”, Prokhorov answered questions about his pending Owner With A Boner status by saying, “I like women.”
The Internets [Daily News Blog], Nets can begin to look ahead now
If Nets fans are hoping that [John] Wall becomes the next Jason Kidd, then they are praying that Prokhorov becomes the next George Steinbrenner. He hasn't even taken over the team yet, and already Prokhorov has taken on as high a profile as Steinbrenner had back in the old days. Okay, not quite. But close.
NLG: For good measure, the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers clinched the title of all-time worst NBA team when the Nets managed their 10th win of the season a few minutes ago, defeating San Antonio 90-84.
Posted by eric at 9:52 PM
It came from the Prokosphere...
Daily Transom [NY Observer], 60 Minutes Parties With Prokhorov
Steve Kroft went to Moscow for a 60 Minutes segment on impending Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and got to do all kinds of fun things: eat a dinner of Russian delicacies, go to a club with a VIP section stocked with girls, and tour the sprawling mansion of Russia's richest man.
Mr. Prokhorov, being the gentle 6'7" giant that he is, even let Mr. Kroft hold one of his favorite Kalashnikov assault rifles. And he told Mr. Kroft that he sort of enjoyed the three days he spent in jail in France for allegedly flying prostitutes into the country.
All of which might have precluded Mr. Prokhorov from owning a team in the old days of the NBA, say, five years ago, when the league was flush with cash and teams weren't giving away players to cut their losses.
Now, it doesn't seem to matter.
"I think he's a man who's passed a very tight security check, and nobody has come up with any reason why he shouldn't be an NBA owner," said David Stern, the NBA commissioner, with a straight face.
The Star-Ledger, Interviews shed light on prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov
While the '60 Minutes' piece on Mikhail Prokhorov received national attention Sunday, a profile of depth and substance was released hours later by Bloomberg Markets magazine, which details his childhood and emphasized his global ambitions.
Interviewed in Moscow and Siberia over four days by reporter Stephanie Baker, the future owner of the Nets said the term “oligarch” shouldn’t apply to him, because “an oligarch is rich and has political power. I’m a businessman. Every businessman has a relationship with the government ... I’m not into politics.”
Still, Prokhorov admitted, he last paid a bribe “15 years ago, the last time. I need to be frank.”
NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner certainly has a relationship with government. New York's seems to serve as his personal cash machine and land-procurement operation.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, 60 Minutes Parties With Prospective Nets'/Barclays Center Owner Mikhail Prokhorov
There is hagiography, and then there is billionaire worship, and then there is....partying with an oligarch.
Tonight, once respectable 60 Minutes aired a puff piece on the prospective owner of the Nets and prospective partial owner of the Barclays Center Arena—Russia's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov. And Steve Kroft had fun doing it (expensive wine, a helicopter trip to [Siberia], clubbing in Mikhail's section of the club and a lavish meal), while Bruce Ratner probably had a great time watching it, as well, as none of the controversial issues about the Atlantic Yards project and Prokhorov's complicity were even touched upon.
The 44-year-old's first interview with American television aired last night on "60 Minutes," and though he was not able to discuss any specific plans for improving the team, he did not hesitate to embrace the challenge of turning around a team that might tie the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers for the worst record in NBA history.
"I am real excited to take the worst team in the league and turn it to be the best," Prokhorov said of the 9-64 Nets, who need one win in their final nine games to avoid tying the 76ers' mark for ineptitude.
NetsAreScorching, MIKHAIL PROKHOROV’S 60 MINUTES INTERVIEW
I know a lot of people have been really excited about the change in ownership, and I am too. The biggest change Prokhorov is going to represent is in ownership’s feeling about the team. I have never met Bruce Ratner, but with what I have read about him and heard (interviews and such), it becomes apparent that putting a winning product on the court isn’t the top priority.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, "Miracle Happens": 60 Minutes Pitches Softballs to Prospective Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov
Miracles do happen, such as Russia's richest man stepping in to bail out a broke developer subsidized by New York taxpayers and the government's gift of eminent domain. THAT is a miracle.
NBC New York, Mikhail Prokhorov Introduces Himself
The dual profiles do a lot to clean up the cartoon supervillain vibe that earlier discussions of Prokhorov have given off, especially when the incoming owner said that he was buying the Nets to benefit Russian basketball.
NLG: Supervillain? It's the current owner who's a well known supervillain.
DealBook [NYTimes.com], Nets’ Likely Owner Faces America
The Times repackages its story from last night with a dash of the Bloomberg Markets interview.
Hoopsnotes, Prokhorov To Nets Fans: ‘Miracles Happen’
Posted by eric at 10:08 AM
The Russian Is Coming
Here's the full 60 Minutes segment with prospective Nets' owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
Mikhail Prokhorov, perhaps Russia's richest man, discusses his planned buy of the Nets, his wealth and the unusual way he made most of his money in his first U.S. TV interview. Steve Kroft reports.
Posted by eric at 9:39 AM
March 28, 2010
In "The Russian Is Coming," 60 Minutes' Kroft pitches softball questions to insouciant billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov
Atlantic Yards Report
Congratulations, 60 Minutes you know you've made it to the big time of slipshod reporting when you've been "Oderized" (that goes for you, too, New York Times, but you're used to it). The remarkable Norman Oder has already dissected the Prokhorov interview.
The CBS newsmagazine show 60 Minutes is surely capable of tough investigation; in 2003, it ran a tough piece on eminent domain abuse around the country, even mentioning an episode in which the New York Times "teamed up with a major real estate developer" to get New York State to use eminent domain for a new Times headquarters.
That very same "major real estate developer," Forest City Ratner, has achieved similar success in getting the state to declare the Atlantic Yards site blighted, but that's not the story 60 Minutes wanted this time.
It sought a "get"--an exclusive interview with expected Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and, in the segment broadcast tonight, The Russian Is Coming, correspondent Steve Kroft lobbed softball questions at the billionaire, partied with him (as in screenshot at right), and generally couldn't suppress a grin from his face.
NoLandGrab: Frankly, we've seen harder-hitting reporting from Sid & Marty Krofft.
Posted by eric at 11:59 PM
Why Two-Meter Billionaire Says He’s Only NBA Owner Who Can Dunk
Bloomberg Markets via BusinessWeek.com
by Stephanie Baker
First 60 Minutes. Now a lengthy profile in Bloomberg Markets. This is starting to seem like a coordinated public relations campaign. More here about how Prokhorov got to be Prokhorov, but nothing about why he didn't attend the groundbreaking.
Prokhorov’s love of sports is part of the reason he wants to buy the Nets. He says he originally went after the New York Knicks because of their Manhattan base. They weren’t for sale. Ratner says he approached Prokhorov after hearing from NBA Commissioner David Stern that he was interested in buying a team.
Ratner, 65, had bought the Nets in 2004, for $300 million, from a holding company called YankeeNets LLC. Ratner traveled to Moscow in mid-2009 to discuss the plan with Prokhorov over dinner. Six weeks later, they made a deal.
“We hit it off,” Ratner says. “He will control the team, and we will control the arena.”
NoLandGrab: Of course, there's no disclosure that the man who owns Bloomberg Markets also
owns is mayor of New York CIty, which has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for the building of that arena.
Posted by eric at 11:44 PM
The Oligarch File: Mikhail Prokhorov Talks to '60 Minutes'
by Dave D'Alessandro
Why is it the sports reporters always seem to be the ones to see through the nonsense?
So when it comes to NBA ownership, it’s all about stacks of money – and a willingness to flaunt them – so that is what the CBS program made the emphasis of its 14-minute segment.
We saw Mikky at his opulent home. We saw Mikky’s Maybach. We saw a model of his $45 million yacht (where is it docked? He didn’t know) and his guns and his workout room and his, uh, food.
We get it: He’s rich, and comfortable with it.
But there was very little substance about where he came from, which is an important part of his remarkable life and success. You can’t know someone unless you know specifically what they’ve been through in life – those forces that shaped the motives and the spirit of the person involved.
The show’s producers didn’t even try.
But at least they got him to sit down for a while, as uncomfortable as he seemed in closeup.
And that isn’t to suggest that the piece didn’t have some interesting moments. During the segment that depicted all the Russian businessmen getting rubbed out by the mob or competitors in the 90s, Prokhorov came up with a Western metaphor that didn’t sound as rehearsed as the others he used: “It was Wild West,” he said. “It was a territory with no sheriff. No rules. You need to survive.”
In other segments, he came across as very disingenuous.
Posted by eric at 11:07 PM
Nets’ Likely Owner Faces a Nation
The New York Times
by Richard Sandomir
The Times covers the 60 Minutes interview, and tosses Mikhail Prokhorov a few softballs of its own. Now we know he's watched 10 Nets games this season on DVD's the team provides him, but we still don't know why he didn't attend the groundbreaking, what he thinks of the use of eminent domain to clear space for the arena, why armed men stalking Moscow-based journalist John Helmer were carrying documents from one of Prokhorov's companies and so on.
In an e-mail response to questions, Prokhorov wrote on Sunday: “I view this investment as a business opportunity. I expect this asset to be worth around a billion dollars after the new arena is built and the team gets to the top of the N.B.A.”
Prokhorov, who first conveyed to the league his interest in buying a team in 2008, was initially focused on the Knicks before turning his attention to the Nets.
“I love huge cities: the feeling of pace, of energy,” he wrote in the e-mail message. “Outside of my hometown, Moscow, New York is the place I feel most comfortable. It was this feeling that first sparked my interest in the Knicks.”
But after seeing that the Knicks could not be acquired from Cablevision, which recently spun off Madison Square Garden as a separate company also controlled by the Dolan family, he focused on the Nets.
NoLandGrab: Though the article includes references to Atlantic Yards and Bruce C. Ratner, it does not disclose that Forest City Ratner developed the newspaper's headquarters building.
Posted by eric at 9:28 PM
Excerpt: The Russian Is Coming
CBS posted a short clip of what might have been its least-hard-hitting interview ever with Bruce Ratner's savior, prospective Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. We'll post the full interview once it becomes available.
Mikhail Prokhorov, perhaps Russia's richest man, discusses his planned purchase of the NJ Nets, his vast wealth and the surprisingly unusual way he made most of his money.
NoLandGrab: Glasses of Chateau Lafite '95 drunk by Steve Kroft at Mikhail Prokhorov's dinner table?
Sexy Russian models partied with by Steve Kroft in Mikhail Prokhorov's favorite night club?
Tough questions asked by Steve Kroft of Mikhail Prokhorov during their 60 Minutes inteview?
Value to Bruce Ratner of the absence of any questions about Atlantic Yards?
Posted by eric at 8:25 PM
March 26, 2010
ACORN's Original Sin
Critics of the expiring activist group say it was driven by the vision of Saul Alinsky. If only that were true.
by Jesse Walker
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN, will shut its doors as a national operation next week. A wellspring of activism for four decades, the left-wing group has gotten more attention lately for a series of scandals, from an embarrassing embezzlement case at the top of the organization to the hidden-camera videos that captured low-level employees doling out advice on how to operate a brothel without raising red flags at the IRS. Republicans hated the group, which they loved to link to the ideas of the veteran activist Saul Alinsky, a demon figure on the right. But the primary problem with the organization—a trouble running deeper than either corruption or ideology, one with lessons for grassroots activists across the political spectrum—is that ACORN wasn't Alinskyan enough. It may have emerged from the community organizing tradition that Alinsky helped to found, but it also rejected some of his most important advice.
Advice like not getting into bed with companies whose projects you should by all rights be fighting against.
Consider one recent financial relationship. As my colleague Damon Root has reported, ACORN allied itself with Bruce Ratner, the real estate and sports tycoon who is using eminent domain to seize and demolish private homes and small businesses in Brooklyn, allowing him to build a 22-acre development called the Atlantic Yards. Under other circumstances, ACORN might have fought against this sort of mass eviction, but in this case the group agreed to lend Ratner their "political might" and "political cover." (The phrases come from ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, in an interview with the Regional Labor Review.) In exchange, Ratner would include some allegedly affordable housing in the plan, which ACORN would (quite profitably) help to operate. Perhaps more importantly, Ratner gave the group $1.5 million at a time when it was desperately short of cash. The results, Root writes, included "large numbers of noisy ACORN members present at every Atlantic Yards public hearing, press conference, and media event—including an August 2006 event trumpeting 'community support' for the project where Bertha Lewis acted as MC."
Atlantic Yards is the sort of state-corporate partnership that earlier generations of community organizers fought against, bringing pastors and housewives and union men and business owners together to stop the threat to their homes. Saul Alinsky battled urban renewal plans in neighborhoods ranging from Woodlawn in Chicago to Chelsea in New York. Whatever flaws you might find in Alinsky's political vision, I can't imagine him endorsing Ratner's land grab.
Posted by eric at 9:28 PM
March 25, 2010
Mikhail Prokhorov: The Russian Is Coming
Remember when 60 Minutes used to be the pinnacle of hard-hitting investigative journalism? Unless they're holding back the good stuff for Sunday's broadcast, those days appear to be over.
Mikhail Prokhorov hopes to give the lowly New Jersey Nets a brand new start of it in old New York and the challenge it poses goes right to the very heart of the Frank Sinatra song, the Russian billionaire tells "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft.
Prokhorov, perhaps Russia's richest man, discusses the Nets, his vast wealth and the surprisingly unusual way he made most of his money in his first American television interview to be broadcast this Sunday, March 28, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
"I am real excited to take the worst team of the league and turn it to be the best," says Prokhorov. Asked by Kroft if he really thinks he can pull it off, the 6-foot-8-inch billionaire responds, "I am confident. Do you remember in the Frank Sinatra song, 'New York, New York?' If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere," he tells Kroft with a laugh.
Prokhorov has certainly made it outside of the U.S., amassing a fortune estimated at as much as $17 billion. His Moscow team won the European pro-basketball championship some years ago. He's a famous man in Russia, whose fortunes took off amid the collapse of communism, when he and a partner got sweetheart deals from the Russian government, making them and other "oligarchs" who had gotten similar treatment, extremely wealthy.
NoLandGrab: And now he and his U.S. partner, Bruce C. Ratner, are getting sweetheart deals from New York's government.
Posted by eric at 8:45 PM
March 15, 2010
Prokhorov Urges Russia to Buy Greece, Commandeer Olympic Flame
by Yuriy Humber
Proko, you're killing us.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who sold most of his assets before the global financial crisis, used his first appearance on a comedy show to make fun of Greece’s budget woes, saying the country’s rich history makes it an attractive acquisition target.
“I suggest we buy Greece,” Prokhorov said on the Spotlight Paris Hilton television show on March 13.
NoLandGrab: Greece, with a national debt of 300 billion Euros, representing something like 120% of the country's GDP, is still likely in better financial shape than the New Jersey Nets, which Prokhorov really is buying.
Posted by eric at 12:08 PM
March 3, 2010
Russian Playboy Mikhail Prokhorov Loses $53M Mansion Deposit
by Alexander Marquardt
Guess he'll have to settle for Daniel Goldstein's home instead.
Anywhere in the world, $53 million is considered a hefty sum for a house. For one of Russia's most prominent oligarchs that's just a 10 percent deposit, and he just lost it.
A French court ruled Monday that nickel tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov would not get back the deposit he put down on a sprawling, $530 million villa on the French Riviera. He backed out of the purchase in 2008 as the global financial crisis gathered steam.
"We have lost," Prokhorov's lawyer Jean-Pierre Gastaud said after the court in the southern city of Nice made its decision. Gastaud said he would urge his client to appeal.
Prokhorov, who is 44 and a billionaire many times over, is still shopping. An avid 6'9" tall basketball fan, he is awaiting approval by the NBA for his purchase of a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets.
The same day, a New York judge ruled against opponents of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, putting the Nets a step closer to moving to a new home there in 2012.
Posted by eric at 2:30 PM
New Nets owner lost $54M on deposit for French Riviera mansion
The NY Post
By Charles Bremner
Apparently Atlantic Yards isn't the first misguided real estate deal made by the man who is on deck to enter into partnership on the megaproject and to purchase Bruce Ratner's flagging NJ Nets.
A lump sum of $53.7 million will buy a sumptuous mansion on the French Riviera. Russia's richest man lost that amount -- and a lot of face -- when a court refused to return his deposit on the grandest villa of them all.
Mikhail Prokhorov, 44, a playboy-magnate worth nearly $9 billion who last year purchased the New Jersey Nets, was told that he could not reclaim the funds that he put down on the Villa Leopolda, a cliff-top property that he promised to buy in 2008. He backed out of the record sale, for $529 million, early last year after the recession struck the minerals and metals business on which his fortune is based.
The decision was the second blow by French justice against Prokhorov, who also owns two chalets in the Alpine resort of Courchevel. In January 2007 he was arrested and detained for four days on suspicion of flying in prostitutes for a party in the properties. He was released without charge but Moscow media depicted the incident as a deliberate insult against Russia.
NoLandGrab: Though Prokhorov is set to overpay for the privilege of owning a piece of the NBA, hard-core Nets fans are salivating at the prospect of an owner who has a history of tossing around buckets of cash.
Posted by lumi at 5:25 AM
February 25, 2010
A fan-friendly solution to fix the NBA
by Bill Simmons
In the NBA, the owners are headed for a similar, "Wait a second, were we doing this the right away?" realization, if it hasn't happened already. The current system doesn't fly. The salary cap and luxury threshold ebb and flow with yearly revenue -- so if revenue drops, teams have less to spend -- only there's no ebb and flow with the salaries. When the revenue dips like it did these past two seasons, the owners are screwed.
They arrived at this specific point after salaries ballooned over the past 15 years -- not for superstars, but for complementary players who don't sell tickets, can't carry a franchise, and, in a worst-case scenario, operate as a sunk cost. These players get overpaid for one reason: Most teams throw money around like drunken sailors at a strip joint. When David Stern says, "We're losing $400 million this season," he really means, "We stupidly kept overpaying guys who weren't worth it, and then the economy turned, and now we're screwed."
For instance, when I was in Dallas for All-Star Weekend, I asked an extremely wealthy person the following question: "Why haven't you bought an NBA team yet?"
His answer: "Because they're still overvalued. Anyone who buys in right now is doing it for ego only. That's why the league grabbed the Russian's [Mikhail Prokhorov's] money [for the New Jersey Nets] so quickly. He has a big ego and deep pockets, and he didn't know any better. He just wanted in.
Posted by eric at 10:29 AM
February 24, 2010
Putin Questions Dealings of Russian Oligarchs
The New York Times
by Andrew E. Kramer
The business dealings of four of the super-wealthy Russians known as oligarchs slipped into dangerous territory Wednesday when they were upbraided by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin in a televised speech.
Presiding over a meeting on the electricity industry, Mr. Putin said the executives had undertaken to invest in power plants some years back but were now trying to renege on the obligations, citing diminished demand for electricity because of the financial crisis.
Mr. Putin had sharp words for Mr. Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest men whose business interests extend outside of the country as well.
A basketball enthusiast, Mr. Prokhorov agreed last fall to buy a controlling stake in the New Jersey Nets from the developer Bruce C. Ratner, and move them to a planned new stadium at Mr. Ratner’s Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn.
At issue are investments by the oligarchs in electrical generating companies. Under the terms of the privatization, they were to invest in building power plants or refurbishing existing sites with more fuel efficient turbines, Mr. Putin said. The men could be fined if they fail to invest.
Then, in a comment ominous for its echoes of the arrest and imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man as owner of the now bankrupt Yukos oil company, Mr. Putin said causes may arise to involve the prosecutors general in this dispute.
“There is a possibility,” Mr. Putin said, “especially if we are talking about technical safety” at the power plant sites.
NoLandGrab: In Russia, Community Benefits Agreements are very enforceable.
Posted by eric at 6:32 PM
February 17, 2010
Future NJ Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov avoids questions about basketball, bemoans fate of Russian biathlon team
by Dave D'Alessandro
Dave D'Alessandro flies all the way to Vancouver to interview Mikhail Prokhorov, only to discover that a Nets victory is more likely than a Proky scoop.
“I hoped to get good results here. For the time being, we are not very lucky,” the oligarch said in careful but inexpert English, after his women failed to medal in the 10-kilometer pursuit.
The future Nets owner is also the president of the Russian Biathlon Union, so we played along.
So this made it a bad morning for Mikky. He wanted a medal. Some wrote that he demanded a medal. In one interview, the author inferred that heads would roll on the coaching staff if the team didn’t repeat its recent success it had in a competition in Slovenia.
“In our (best) discipline, the relay, we should sure will get a medal,” Prokhorov predicted.
By now, you can tell that we hadn’t a clue how to break the ice with a billionaire. Language was an issue — our fault, we too often talk in idioms. So we had a cordial but mostly pointless discussion for 15 minutes, standing just off this course carved into the middle of the Coast Mountains, because as soon as he heard our name and affiliation, up went the preconditions:
“No basketball. I cannot comment. The lawyers told me I cannot speak,” he said. “As soon as deal is ... closed, I have summit.”
NoLandGrab: The failures of the Russian biathletes should prepare Prokhorov well for ownership of the Nets.
Posted by eric at 9:45 PM
February 1, 2010
Prokhorov Meeting with Thorn, Yormark at All-Star Break
The all-Nets-all-the-time blog rounds up recent media reports on Mikhail Prokhorov's pending purchase of the team from the worst owner in NBA history.
Beat writers have been tracking the progress of the Nets sale and although there’s nothing definitive on when the NBA Board of Governors will approve Mikhail Prokhorov as owner–or whether that’s the final step to put him in charge, it looks like the first planning meetings on the team’s future will take place during All-Star Weekend, Feb 12-14. Rod Thorn and Brett Yormark will participate. The two first met Prokhrov in October. Among the issues: whether Thorn will continue as president of basketball operations.
Posted by eric at 12:16 PM
January 28, 2010
Nets notes: Mikhail Prokhorov must wait for majority ownership
Mikhail Prokhorov is expected to take over majority ownership of the Nets in the first quarter of 2010, but it probably won’t be until the very end of the first quarter.
Multiple sources said the Russian billionaire may not take control of the team from Bruce Ratner until March. It’s possible it could go into the second quarter, early April, depending on when everyone and everything is cleared from the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn - the "vacant possessions" condition that needs to be met for the sale to go through.
Prokhorov also needs to be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors, which could happen next month.
NoLandGrab: Given the history of Atlantic Yards remember that the Nets were supposed to open the 2006-2007 season in Broolyn we have a feeling Mr. Prokhorov may be waiting a lot longer than that.
NetsDaily, Prokhorov Won’t Become Owner Til Spring
Posted by eric at 11:44 AM
January 25, 2010
NBA Approval of Prokhorov “Days Away”
The NBA Board of Governors is “days away” from approving Mikhail Prokhorov as the Nets’ new owner, according to reports. There’s also confirmation of a month-old report that the Russian billionaire has agreed to throw another $100 million into Barclays Center.
Now, there’s word from inside the franchise that Prokhorov has indeed committed to buying more than two-thirds of the infrastructure bonds–$100 million worth. The remainder will reportedly be marketed by Forest City Enterprises, the Cleveland-based company that is currently the team’s biggest shareholder at 23%. FCE is controlled by Bruce Ratner’s extended family.
The manner in which the debt is structured will also give Prokhorov effective control over the arena and in fact could give him actual control in one (unlikely) circumstance.
As Project Finance wrote in December, “If Prokhorov buys the subordinated [infrastructure] bonds, which are serviced through lower quality and more uncertain cashflows, and the project experiences a sustained period of weak financial performance, then in the event of a default on the subdebt, he would take control of the project.”
Critics have noted the consequences of such a default. Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report wrote, “The upshot, though, is that the enormous state effort to get the project going–the Blight Study, the use of eminent domain, the tax-exempt bonds, etc.–could turn out to provide the most significant benefits to Russia’s richest man.”
Posted by eric at 9:08 AM
January 12, 2010
Did Oleg Deripaska Really Order the Murder of a Journalist?
Though it has taken a couple of weeks, the news of the attempted hit on Helmer and new allegations that Rusal and Oleg Deripaska were behind it, have gone viral. On Jan. 9th, the Australian (where Helmer is originally from) published a new angle, which indicated that the attack was averted only because the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared intel with the journalist that the hit was coming his way. The Australian article got picked up by Dave D'Alessandro of the Star-Ledger over the weekend (who probably has interest in the news as related to NJ Nets buyer Mikhail Prokhorov), and since then the it has been picked up by the highly visible political blogger Matt Taibi, an old friend of Helmer.
Here's why the story is still so weird. So if nobody knows who controls Rusal at this point, or if the company is actually under the executive stewardship of the Kremlin at this point, than how can we be so sure that they were the ones behind this bumbling assassination job? Why wouldn't such a wealthy business group have paid off the federal security service and local police with bribes like they did in the Politkovskaya job? There seemed to be a suspiciously high level of evidence available to pin this on the company ... I mean seriously, who goes out to do something like that and carries a dossier with the company's name on it?? Furthermore, could the timing have been any worse?
Something just doesn't quite add up here, and perhaps it is just the fact that we have gotten so used to murdered journalists in Russia, that this one foiled attempt didn't even make the headlines for several weeks.
Posted by eric at 8:58 PM
Back to Background Reviews in a Sort of “I told You So” Way: Developments With Respect to Prokhorov
Noticing New York
With reports out of Moscow alleging a possible attempted hit on a muckraking Australian journalist by employees of a private-security firm connected to a company which is 18.5% owned by pending Nets owner and Russian billionaire oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, Michael D.D. White revisits his recommendation that governmental entities in New York might want to be a wee bit more discerning in their public-private partnerships.
We previously wrote on the subject of public agency background checks with respect to approving project principals and whether the public agencies bringing us the Atlantic Yards mega-boondoggle (the Empire State Development Corporation and the Metropolitan Transportation Agency with the assistance of the City of New York) would try to sidestep a background review and approval for:
Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov as a new proposed owner of the Nets basketball team, the heavily subsidized arena the team is supposed to play in, as well as the rest of the Atlantic Yards project which right now is nothing more than a multi-decade option to monopolize the development potential of 22 acres of valuable Brooklyn real estate. . .
We pretty much predicted that the agencies would engage in such sidestepping, given the hellbent determination of those agencies to continue with Atlantic Yards no matter how many project negatives emerge and accumulate. Sidestep they did!
Why might our ask-no-questions Atlantic Yards-loving public agencies now be regretting their decision not to do a Prokhorov background check? The latest news surfacing that an investigator doing a background review on Mr. Prokhorov would want to look into is this as phrased by Atlantic Yards Report:
a chilling charge surfacing in Moscow raises questions about Prokhorov's business interests and an alleged effort to silence a journalist.
Posted by eric at 2:19 PM
January 11, 2010
Russian intrigue; company partly-owned by Prokhorov said to be implicated in plot to kill journalist
Atlantic Yards Report
It's looked like the purchase of a majority interest in the Nets by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov was a walk. Maybe so, but a chilling charge surfacing in Moscow raises questions about Prokhorov's business interests and an alleged effort to silence a journalist.
It hasn't yet caused public ripple effects in the approval process being conducted by the National Basketball Association, but it certainly deserves scrutiny.
Posted by eric at 10:28 AM
January 10, 2010
A Bigger Gun Problem for NBA Commish Stern? Alleged Plot To Kill Moscow Journalist
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Something this wacky and deadly serious could only transpire in Moscow.
Perhaps it's time for the National Basketball Association to rethink its vetting process.
What will NBA Commissioner David Stern and the NBA Board Governors (not to mention Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson) think of the following, which, if true, pales in comparison with Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas' offenses...
Yet-to-be approved Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has an 18.5% stake in RuSal, the world's largest aluminimum company. RuSal is allegedly involved in either an extremly frightening intimidation plot or a straight out plot to kill Moscow-based, independent Austrailian journalist John Helmer.
The story is in the The Weekend Austrailian and has been picked up in the US, first, by Star Ledger sports reporter and columnist Dave D'Alessandro.
David Stern should do some answering...
Here's D'Alessandro's story, which includes the entirety of The Weekend Australian's piece.
The Star-Ledger, Weekend Reading Assignment: A Russian Tale
They tried to kill John Helmer this week.
If you don’t know who John Helmer is, you should take the time to find out: He’s the journalist residing in Moscow who has been a pebble in Mikhail Prokhorov’s shoe since oligarchs have been collecting their billions under the protection of a corrupt, Fascist state.
In other words, he’s the kind of journalist who turns up dead once a month or so inside Putin’s Russia.
Anyway, Helmer – a fascinating and talented fellow, if not a fair bit over the top in his pursuit of truths – claims that the RuSal aluminum giant wants him dead, that the company's moronic hit men tried to act upon it at his home on Dec. 28, and that he has very convincing proof of a connection.
And yes, if that corporate name rings a bell, Prokhorov still owns 18.5 percent of RuSal.
You’ll only find this story in the Aussie papers, because it’s being held off the web to protect against English libel threats. The only thing RuSal has more than money is lawyers, as its spokesman states plainly after the jump page:
Tip-off saves Australian journalist from Moscow plot
THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN
Jan. 9, 2010
THREE armed men have been arrested outside the home of an Australian freelance journalist in Moscow just a week after the federal government warned him it had confidential information he was in danger.
The journalist, John Helmer, said he might have been targeted because of his aggressive reporting on powerful Russian businessmen, including 42-year-old billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
The [Australian] Department of Foreign Affairs has refused to tell Helmer what information led it to fear for his safety, and appears not to have provided any such information to Russian police investigating the case.
A spokesman said last night the department “cannot provide any further details on the source of this threat information (because) it is long-standing policy of the Australian government not to comment on intelligence matters.”
Helmer said Russian police who interrogated the three arrested men told him the men said they worked for a private security company that had been acting on behalf of Rusal, the Deripaska-controlled giant, which has major interests in the Australian aluminium and bauxite industry through holdings in Queensland.
Helmer said the three men were found to be carrying a dossier on him that included photos of him and his wife, and a sketch of the layout of his apartment building.
It also had the name Rusal typed in the top corner of its first page.
Click here to keep reading.
NoLandGrab: Bet Sandy Annabi's glad that they don't deal with obstacles in Yonkers the same way they deal with them in Moscow.
Posted by eric at 7:41 PM
January 4, 2010
Nets owner hosting pal Putin
NY Post, Page Six
Soon-to-be New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is hosting Russian leader Vladimir Putin at his $30 million French Alps chalet as a thank you for officially clearing his name.
The billionaire Russian invited Putin to stay at his chalet in Courchevel after the Russian prime minister secured an apology from French authorities for dragging Prokhorov's name into a prostitution scandal.
Now Prokhorov -- Russia's richest man -- and Putin have returned to celebrate in the same resort where the false claims were made, and to ski on mountains that will be closed to the public amid tight security.
A source told Page Six: "Putin arrived on Saturday with an entourage of 100 people. He is staying at Prokhorov's chalet, which is surrounded by a ring of tight security.
"Prokhorov invited him as a thank you for officially clearing his name. It is intended to be a very secret and private visit."
Our source continued: "Putin is also a very keen skier, and entire runs and lifts will be closed for him. He and Prokhorov are so close that Putin is rumored to be lining him up for a political role. At the very least, we expect to be seeing Putin on the sidelines at a Nets game."
NoLandGrab: That's right, folks, the Empire State Development Corporation will be using eminent domain to seize private property in Prospect Heights for the benefit of Russia's richest man, a close pal of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. We still might take Putin over Prokhorov's pal Bruce Ratner, however.
Just wondering, though, if, when we're "seeing Putin on the sidelines at a Nets game," Brooklyn "will be closed to the public amid tight security?"
Posted by eric at 11:50 PM
December 26, 2009
Basketball's Billionaires - Owning an NBA team during a recession is no slam-dunk.
By Steven Bertoni
Russian industrialist Mikhail Prokhorov is trying to buy his way into the brotherhood of basketball billionaires. In September his company, Onexim Sports, announced it would pay $200 million for a majority stake in the NBA’s New Jersey Nets.
He might want to think twice before writing the check.
Over the last year, basketball’s 10 billionaire owners saw the value of their teams shed a collective $110 million as the recession and job losses punished ticket sales. Team values for the entire NBA fell 3% to an average of $363 million--the first drop in the 11 years that Forbes has calculated team valuations. (See: The Business of Basketball).
Despite the drop in value, NBA players are raking in the cash. Player costs were $2.3 billion during the 2008-09 season--up $100 million from the last year.
Prokhorov, the sports-crazy metals billionaire with a net worth of $9.5 billion as of March 2009, will get an 80% stake in the middling Nets, plus 45% ownership of team’s proposed new Brooklyn home, the Barclays Center.
The NBA could rule on the deal in early 2010. Current Nets owner, Bruce Ratner, bought the team for $300 million in 2004.
Posted by steve at 7:07 AM
December 23, 2009
Prokhorov Going After Distressed Basketball Teams and Megaprojects
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, intends to hook up with three other wealthy compatriots to create a joint war chest that will go after distressed banks and firms...
...and basketball teams and corrupt megaprojects.
Posted by eric at 10:00 AM
December 19, 2009
From Nickel To $200 Million To Saving Atlantic Yards
This profile of oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov includes a description of Phase 2 of the proposed Atlantic Yards project. The ESDC, tool of developer Bruce Ratner, has said Phase 2 will take 10 years to complete, but Ratner says it will take 25.
The investment fund Onexim, headed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, executed its agreement with Forest City Ratner to buy a 45 percent stake in Atlantic Yards — which the developer has said will cost up to $900 million — and 80 percent of the Nets. According to the underlying letter of intent, Onexim will also have an option to buy a 20 percent stake in the larger Atlantic Yards project, which calls for another 16 towers surrounding the arena over the 22-acre site. Most of these towers are slated to be residential.
Posted by steve at 7:48 AM
December 18, 2009
Russian Passes Background Check, and Vote Looms on His Bid for Nets
The New York Times
by Richard Sandomir
Mikhail D. Prokhorov has survived the N.B.A.’s background examination, helping the billionaire Russian oligarch take another step toward acquiring 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of the proposed Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He is said to be Russia’s richest man.
“There were multiple investigations of him by interested parties and there was nothing that was disclosed that would cause us not to move forward with his application,” N.B.A. Commissioner David Stern said Thursday.
The positive results of the vetting process were made known to the league earlier this month.
Oh, please, was there ever any doubt that Prokhorov would pass the NBA's muster? Anything short of his being a baby-killer would've made him A-OK, as finding a replacement for the current disastrous ownership regime (we mean you, Bruce Ratner) had to be Job One at the NBA.
Prokhorov must still submit all the documents required by the league’s advisory finance committee, which will then make a recommendation on his application to the Board of Governors. Stern said the league would continue to look into Prokhorov until a vote by the full ownership late next month or in early February.
Sure. Has anyone seen Stern's glasses?
He needs to be approved by 23 of the league’s 30 owners. A spokesman for Prokhorov had no comment.
The N.B.A.’s decision to make known its clearance of Prokhorov’s background came a day after his company, Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings, closed on the deal to pay Forest City Ratner Companies, which is developing the Barclays Center as part of the Atlantic Yards project, $200 million for his stakes in the team and the arena.
GlobeSt.com, Ratner, Onexim Finalize Atlantic Yards Deal
Since the agreement was originally announced in late September, a couple of the hurdles facing the massive project have been cleared. The New York State Court of Appeals last month upheld a lower-court ruling that okay’d the state’s use of eminent domain to seize properties not already controlled by FCRC, and on Wednesday the state’s highest court ruled against the plaintiffs in another Atlantic Yards-related case. The lawsuit brought by State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery and others sought to annul the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s June 23 sale of property and development rights for its Vanderbilt Yard facility to FCRC. A spokesman for the group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the plaintiffs, says a decision on whether to appeal the ruling hasn’t been made yet.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn Broadside: Atlantic Yards, Brooklyn Bridge Park Projects Proceed Rapidly
The other element, which won’t take place until next year, is to open the door for the 80-percent sale of the New Jersey Nets to Russian magnate Mikhail Prokhorov, a name that will probably become well known in the coming years in Brooklyn.
The rest of the financing will be a small subsidy from the city and private sector capital.
NoLandGrab: Right, what's another $130 million or so in subsidies? Those young whippersnappers can darn tootin' pay for their MetroCards. When Holt was their age, kids were working in sweatshops, not riding around on cushy buses and subways.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, The View from the Cheap Seats
Nets' owner Bruce Ratner announced that an agreement has been reached with Mikhail Prokhorov regarding his stake in the Nets franchise and the proposed arena in Brooklyn. The final hurdle is approval by the remaining NBA owners who have already indicated they'd sign off on the deal. No decision has been reached on Prokhorov's request that the Nets be allowed to play with seven players on the court and shoot at a nine foot basket.
The Eagle also has Ratner's press release.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards Is Not Now, and Never Was, About Affordable Housing
Russia's richest man makes it clear what Atlantic Yards is about and it ain't affordable housing.
Money-losing arena anyone?
Posted by eric at 9:56 AM
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.
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.
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.
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 12:08 AM
December 3, 2009
Prokhorov May Be Cleared, Could Get Control of Barclays Center
Adrian Wojnarowski reports Mikhail Prokhorov’s bid for the Nets should be approved sometime after Jan. 1, quoting an NBA official saying, “He’s already checked out with the league through the FBI”. But Mark Cuban says he has “no idea” when it’ll happen. Meanwhile, a finance magazine reports Prokhorov will back some of the arena bonds and if they default, he’d gain control of Barclays Center as well as the team.
Posted by eric at 2:46 PM
November 30, 2009
Nets Ownership Dictation Opens New Doors, May Modification Vendee Profile
We're assuming that English was not this post's first language.
Prokhorov was cited in an article last hebdomad naming this a "hostile bidding". Hostile or not, Prokhorov looks more interested in the squad as an investing vehicle, not as the typical sportswoman proprietor ( IE Grade Cuban, Steinbrenner, Can H,etc. ). The squad is hemorrhaging money, Bruce Ratner 's immovable company is holds founder under the economical pressure, and merely like many other American corps the Nets ( and its current ownership ) necessitated a fresh extract of cash to keep operations and hold the dreaming of travelling to Brooklyn live. The trade looks to be more Risk capital than typical squad ownership dealing, an outsider investor rendering running cash exchange for equity.
While the conference is likelily excited about the new international frontiers that go available with a Russian proprietor, could it but be that most American businessman hold shied forth from the hazard and low one-year gainfulness of sports squad ownership, and VC type investings in the wide marketplace hold virtually vanishes in that economy, squeezing Ratner to turn elsewhere.
Funding the trade with upward front cash, highly rare in what I 've seen of these type of minutes, farther supports the dealing of more VC investing than new ownership squad. Ratner apparently remains in the icon and gets new cash flowing to proceed the Brooklyn venture and will now share in the top with his gent investor, in the procedure disintermediating himself from the squad, which he holded small or no involvement in in the first place.
Posted by eric at 11:31 AM
November 17, 2009
An Open Letter to the People's Billionaire, Mikhail Prokhorov
Before the richest man in Russia actually goes through with the deal to buy the NJ Nets, for which the State of NY is poised to seize Dan Goldstein's condo, Goldstein released a "Dear Prokhy" letter in hopes of attracting the attention of the team's prospective owner, recently dubbed the "people's billionaire" by Boston Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck.
As you are a people's billionaire we are certain that you can understand our concerns and outrage. We mean, how would you feel if the French government seized your $634 million French Riviera Villa Leopolda and gave it to a billionaire—one of the richest men in the world—to build a football stadium? Not too good, we're sure.
Posted by lumi at 5:36 AM
November 16, 2009
Getting money out of Russia: why Prokhorov might want the Nets no matter where they play
Atlantic Yards Report
The proposed purchase of a majority interest in the Nets by Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia's richest man (at a reported $9.5 billion) may seem to be a toy (as per the New York Times) for the oligarch.
After all, it would cost him just $200 million down (all borrowed) plus a willingness to absorb Nets' debts and losses--hundreds of millions of dollars more--to gain 80% of the team and 45% of the arena.
But if Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner is desperate to divest a money-losing asset, maybe Prokhorov is a little desperate in his own way, given the difficulty--and importance--of getting assets out of Russia and into more stable overseas markets not subject to the heavy hand of the Russian state.
A new owner in NJ?
If that's true--and there's some evidence--then Prokhorov should follow the deal whether it takes him to Brooklyn or New Jersey.
Indeed, after ESPN.com's Marc Stein reported that Prokhorov might buy the Nets even if they stay in New Jersey, a minority owner of the team confirmed to the Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro that "it is believed that Prokhorov 'might be inclined to still buy and keep it in Jersey' if the price could be worked out." (In other words, a renegotiation.)
NoLandGrab: Sure, Prokhorov might be interested in the larger Atlantic Yards real estate deal, but we sincerely doubt it. He wants to own an NBA team, not some apartment buildings. So we have a modest proposal for Mr. Prokhorov.
You've seen the Prudential Center. Nice arena, right? Great pre-season crowd. Ready to go on opening day 2010 (if not sooner). As close to Manhattan as Brooklyn is.
Here's the plan: You make a small investment in Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, say, $300,000. That's not even a rounding error for you. At the same time, you start making noise about how you think the use of eminent domain is inappropriate (maybe relate it to how the totalitarian Soviet state disrespected private property back in the old days, and how you always resented it as a kid). Then you feign cold feet on the Nets deal. And then you sit back, and wait. It won't take long. With the prospect of his rich Russian oligarch bailing, Ratner's Atlantic Yards deal will be belly-up in a matter of weeks, if not days. And then you ride back in, buy the Nets for 50 cents on the dollar, move them to Newark, and voila: You've got what you want, at a huge, Norilsk Nickel-like discount. You can thank us with a couple courtside seats for Lebron and the Cavs, and maybe one of those $19,000 lunches.
Posted by eric at 12:07 PM
November 6, 2009
Owning A Russian Basketball Team Can Be Hazardous To Your Health
The irreverent sports blog broke this story about the drive-by murder earlier this week of a billionaire Russian oligarch sports team owner.
If future Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov ever invites you to watch a game in the owner's box, don't accept. Not only will you be stuck watching the Nets, there's a decent chance you'll be caught up in an assassination attempt.
Shabtai Kalmanovich, one of Prokhorov's partners in post-Soviet billionaire sports owner crime, was murdered on Monday. Kalmanovich is the owner of the Spartak Moscow women's basketball team that is famous for shelling out big bucks to sign WNBA stars like Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, and Diana Taurasi. He was also gunned down on the streets of Moscow when another car pulled up alongside his and opened fire. Yeah, not exactly a random act of violence.
Police say they believe that the murder could be linked to Kalmanovich's business activities, and maybe even "his prominent role in Russian basketball." So that must make people like Prokhorov feel really safe and secure. The NBA too.
The New American, Dangerous Connections: NBA and the KGB
The official publication of the John Birch Society picks up the story, and runs with it.
The recent public assassination in Moscow of Russian oligarch and sports team owner Shabtai Kalmanovich should give NBA promoters pause regarding their headlong rush to welcome Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov as the new owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball franchise.
But don't expect the gunning down of Kalmanovich to stop Nets owner Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn developers from salivating over the prospect of netting some of Prokhorov's billions.
There are other colors also associated with Russian joint ventures: green, for huge sums of laundered money, used for bribes and corruption; and red, for lots and lots of spilt blood. Some of the most recent blood comes from Prokhorov's old business partner, Shabtai Kalmanovich, owner of Spartak, the professional Russian women's basketball team. He was slain on November 2 in classic gangland style. Kalmanovich's black Mercedes-Benz was sprayed with submachine-gun and shotgun blasts from a passing vehicle.
The NBA is making a dangerous deal with the devil; Prokhorov is not investing his own money, it's "The Party's Gold." And the Party guards it very jealously.
Click thru for tales of Russian intrigue, the KGB, the Israeli intelligence apparatus, Stalin, Lenin, secret gold stashes, double-crosses, double-double-crosses, and more.
NoLandGrab: We can't vouch for the story's premise, but it sure makes for entertaining reading and gives "shooting guard" a whole new meaning.
Posted by eric at 10:27 PM
November 2, 2009
Owners 'Russian' to sell
Putting Nets playboy in penthouse
by Rich Calder
Here's a real non-story. Two Brooklyn real estate moguls with unsold, overpriced apartments think prospective Nets' buyer Mikhail Prokhorov should bail them out (after all, he's bailing out Bruce Ratner, right?).
The owners of Brooklyn’s two priciest penthouses are warring to score a trophy tenant -- Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire playboy set to buy the New Jersey Nets and move them to the borough.
Banking on the Moscow mogul wanting a Brooklyn bachelor pad so he can be close to the Nets’ planned new arena, the landlords contacted Prokhorov’s representatives last week about their triplexes.
Both Walentas and Levine said they’ve yet to hear back from Prokhorov, and a Prokhorov spokesman said he “won’t speculate on whether [the billionaire] would be interested.”
End of non-story, but click thru if you want more.
NoLandGrab: For sale, Brooklyn-based blog offering comprehensive coverage of Atlantic Yards project, planned Nets arena and spectacular Russian billionaire oligarch. Will accept payment in dollars or rubles. $1,000,000 o.b.o.
Posted by eric at 9:05 AM
October 27, 2009
HEY RICO! HEY MICKY! HEY VOVA! WHADDYA SAY?
Dances with Bears
by John Helmer
Some very interesting stuff from the one-man Moscow news bureau, intertwining US Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act prosecutions, prospective Atlantic Yards savior Mikhail Prokhorov, and term-limits overrider Mike Bloomberg. Really.
So here we are now in New York, where the mayor, a 5 foot-6 inch fellow named Michael Bloomberg, has spent $85 million to make sure noone has a chance of contesting the mayoral election against him on November 3; actually, by then he will have spent between $110 million and $140 million. With money like that, you might say the racket is already in power in New York City, and RICO is Mayor. So, you might also ask – how is it possible to file a lawsuit in a town whose mayor is Bloomberg against a Russian bad guy, whose legal exposure is that he conspired to make a lot of money, and got rid of any competition that stood in the way, mostly by paying for it to go away.
Hey Rico! Meet Micky Prokhorov – a man whose record for violating US-type stock manipulation and asset stripping regulations was allegedly so bad, an Englishman with an inherited title made the allegation in public. That man, Patrick Gillford (Lord Gillford, son and heir of the 7th Earl of Clanwilliam) made a lot of money himself working on projects which, according to Prokhorov, were paid for by Vladimir Potanin, Prokhorov’s original business partner in Moscow. Because Prokhorov was fighting Potanin for control of Polyus Gold, the listed goldmining company, whose stock they shared in roughly equal blocs, and because Gillford occupied a seat on the board as a purported independent, Prokhorov retorted in public that Gillford was toeing Potanin’s line, because he was being rewarded, and so wasn’t independent at all.
A man who works for Gillford in London named Locksley Ryan also busied himself in 2008, briefing institutional shareholders in the goldmining company. Ryan told them tales of how Prokhorov was threatening to steal the listed company’s assets, and urged them to vote against Prokhorov’s candidates for the board, and for Gillford.
A year on, and now that Mayor Bloomberg is backing Prokhorov to buy with some of his own, but mostly borrowed money, the Nets basketball franchise and a control stake in a Brooklyn real estate development, investigators from New York have been asking Gillford and Ryan to repeat what they said about Prokhorov’s business practices in 2008. But they refuse. Gillford is still sitting on the board of Polyus Gold; Potanin has cut his losses and sold out; and Prokhorov controls the company without challenge. Recently Ryan let slip: “In the end he didn’t have to steal the company’s assets, so what’s the point of repeating last year’s complaints that he might?”
NoLandGrab: We're not quite sure how to summarize, nor how to tie the threads together, so you may want to click thru and read the whole story.
Posted by eric at 4:16 PM
October 23, 2009
Nets buyer & pals hoop it up
Q: How much does a Russian billionaire spend on lunch in NYC? A: 19G!
by Rich Calder
The planned Nets arena in Brooklyn might be a net economic loser, but the team's prospective owner might just make up for it.
Russia's richest man blew the equivalent of 552,000 rubles for lunch at one of the city's priciest restaurants as he celebrated his soon-to-be new career as a basketball baron, sources told The Post.
Billionaire playboy Mikhail Prokhorov, who is close to buying the Nets, took a half-dozen comrades to Nello on the Upper East Side Wednesday afternoon, following a meeting with NBA owners.
He concluded that they had hit it off so well, he'll have no trouble getting them to approve his plan to buy the team.
The tab and tip totaled close to $19,000 for Prokhorov and his pals.
NoLandGrab: Is there something about this guy that seems just a little too good to be true for Bruce Ratner and the NBA?
Posted by eric at 10:30 AM
October 22, 2009
Russian's positive Net result
by Edmund DeMarche and Rich Calder
If first impressions mean anything, Russian billionaire playboy Mikhail Prokhorov’s attempt to become majority owner of the New Jersey Nets and move them to Brooklyn appears to be a slam dunk.
Russia’s richest man won over many NBA owners last night at the St. Regis Hotel in Midtown during his inaugural meeting with league brass about his plans to buy 80 percent stake in the Nets from developer Bruce Ratner, a source said.
"Everyone seemed excited over the love he has of basketball and the unlimited amount of money he can inject into the game," the source said of the closed-door session. "He can also do a lot to boost the presence of Eastern European talent in the league."
NoLandGrab: Given the success of Bruce Ratner's ownership regime, Bernie Madoff would've jazzed the other NBA owners.
Posted by eric at 3:40 PM
October 13, 2009
Weak dollar, low NY property prices woo foreigners
After a year most investors would like to forget, foreign real estate buyers are being swayed to spend again in New York City by a weak U.S. dollar and property prices at levels not seen for years, say experts. Real estate brokers and analysts say they have noticed more foreign investors looking to purchase in New York -- boosting the market's recovery hopes....
Russian investors are among those leading the way with the country's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, recently reaching a $200 million deal to buy an 80 percent share in the New Jersey Nets basketball team and a 45 percent stake the Atlantic Yards, a real estate development in New York's Brooklyn borough where the team will play if the project is completed.
NoLandGrab: US taxpayer subsidies, eminent domain and a weak dollar... how can a foreign investor refuse?
Posted by lumi at 9:03 PM
October 8, 2009
Prokhorov says his Nets investment is no money down, all borrowed funds
Atlantic Yards Report
There's a little bit lost in translation, but the headline is clear: Prokhorov Says Nets Will Make Profit in 2011-12, reports the Moscow Times.
Russia's richest man expressed no doubt that legal challenges would be overcome. But the big news is that Prokhorov revealed his game-changing (to Bruce Ratner) investment comes with little sacrifice.
The Moscow Times reports:
Prokhorov said that while Onexim Group has sufficient funds, it might raise the financing required from Western banks. The New York Times reported Sept. 25 that the agreement also envisioned future Nets losses, up to $60 million, that are expected to accumulate before the move to Brooklyn. Prokhorov also will be responsible for 80 percent of the team’s $207 million debt, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified executive involved in the transaction.
Prokhorov declined to provide details about the deal.
“We borrow the money and essentially give the loan to someone else,” Prokhorov said. “For that, we get the team and a share in the real estate project. To use simple language: the group doesn’t spend any of its own money.
“We are in the process of negotiating with Western banks,” Prokhorov added, declining to identify the banks or disclose the interest rate of the loans. “We will attract the full sum of the needed investment.”
Here's the original piece:
Moscow Times, Prokhorov Says Nets Will Make Profit in 2011-12
“We have carried out our due diligence. We understand the current state of the team, and we understand how it will be transformed into a successful and profitable undertaking when it moves to Brooklyn,” Prokhorov said in an interview.
“We understand the legal situation around the arena, our lawyers have attentively looked through all the documents. Under the agreements, we are protected from delays at the arena and expect that the management team will be able to deal with this,” he said.
NoLandGrab: The "management team" has been dealing with "this" for nearly six years now. We wouldn't have put our own money down, either.
Posted by eric at 9:33 AM
October 1, 2009
Obama silent on Atlantic Yards
President declines comment on Russian billionaire's purchase of the Nets
Courier-Life (via, NYPost.com)
By Steven Witt
As if Atlantic Yards isn't "brutally weird" enough, apparently the big sleeper issue is
the real amount of public subsidy required to build the project President Obama's position on Atlantic Yards.
We think there's a logical thread in this article somewhere, but we are still looking:
President Obama may have weighed in on New York’s upcoming gubernatorial race, but he remains silent when it comes to commenting on Atlantic Yards.
That after the White House declined comment on Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s majority purchase of the NBA’s Nets and their planned move to Brooklyn.
Obama, a huge Chicago Bulls fan, recently decided to scrap former President George Bush’s missile defense plan in Eastern Europe in favor of a more mobile defense system, and relations between the United States and Russia appear to be thawing.
According to Prokhorov spokesperson Freeman Miller, the team’s new owner knows former Russian President and current Prime minister Vladamir Putin very well, and despite reports of some Russian Parliament members not being happy with the purchase, the sale appears to have the Kremlin’s approval.
Obama had talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at last week’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh, and the White House also declined comment on whether Atlantic Yards and the sale entered into their conversation.
Questions submitted via email to the Russian government were not answered at press time.
Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM
Review and Comment: A Game Changer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Henrik Krogius
A 6-foot-6 (7? 9?) Russian basketball fan not only has come to the rescue of a project whose survival was in question, but he has stirred new hopes on the American professional basketball scene and raised speculation affecting the professional sports picture in general.
Nets are Scorching, Nets on the Net: 9/30/09
In others news, an editorial about the Atlantic Yards Development in the Brooklyn Eagle paints a grim picture for opponents of the Nets move to Brooklyn: “Daniel Goldstein and his Don’t Destroyers are now waging verbal warfare against the Prokhorov Oligarchs, but they are into a game where money talks louder than insults.”
NoLandGrab: Oh, stupid us... we forgot that Prokhorov is the richest man in Russia, that settles it then build it now!
Posted by lumi at 6:38 AM
Lost in Translation: Of Atlantic of Yards of Development of Company
The fight against Bruce Ratner's bizarro Atlantic Yards megaproject is even funnier in translation:
VOANews.com, Σε Ρώσους πουλιέται η ομάδα Μπάσκετ του Νιού Τζέρζι
According to his statement his love on the basket led him to his decision to buy team NETS, when it is transported in her new permanent residence in Brooklyn of New York. It supports that his this movement will strengthen the interest for this sport in his country Russia.
The completion of work Atlantic Yards from the constructor and [nyn] householder of team Bruce Ratner - which had paid in 2004 300 millions dollars - is henceforth impossible and the Russian presents itself at the appropriate time in order to buy not only the team, but also the 45% of new 18 thousands of places of stage, as well as the 20% of constructional company that has undertaken him.
Expert.ru, Прохоров или Абрамович?
The member of the Federation Council Of [aslambek] Of [aslakhanov] named Prokhorov's act unpatriotic, and the leader of Duma committee on gymnastics and sport of Anton [Sikharulidze] noted that, in his opinion, the money, earned in Russia, must be packed first of all in the development of local children's- youthful sport.
[T]he purchase “Of [nets]”, according to [Prokhorov], is only the aspect of the very profitable business- project, into which enter also shared participation in the building of the new arena of club in Brooklyn and option for acquisition by 20% Of atlantic Of yards Of development Of company, by the occupied building of 22 acres of the earth by the objects of commercial and habitable real estate.
Posted by lumi at 6:05 AM
September 30, 2009
From Ratnerville with Love
The reports and analysis are still trickling in of Bruce Ratner's deal with the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov to bail out the NJ Nets and the flagging Atlantic Yards project.
Though the headline makes it sound like "globalization continues" despite the sale, Newsday's John Jeansonne casts the deal in the context of borderless economies:
“It’s business as usual in the international economy,” Duke University cultural anthropologist Orin Starn said of the Prokhorov deal. “It’s a borderless world and a world where money talks.
“It’s part of the pattern of globalization of sports ownership, just as corporations have globalized,” Starn said. “It’s also about the old story of sports franchises as a kind of trophy, a plaything of the wealthy. American millionaires and billionaires, from [marketing magnate and Washington Redskins owner] Daniel Snyder to [Microsoft co-founder and NFL, NBA and Major League Soccer team owner] Paul Allen, want their franchises, their sports toys. Russian billionaires are the same.”
Rob Tilliss, who worked with Ratner in the latter’s 2003 purchase of the Nets and now is CEO of the global sports and entertainment advising firm Inner Circle Sports, argued that “the reaction would’ve been similar if it were a wealthy Indian or Malaysian or Chinese buying the Nets. I think any time you have a foreign investor acquiring a major U.S. asset, there’s a lot of interest.”
Not so many years ago, such a deal would have been a clear sign of the apocalypse, especially since sports so often is tied to patriotism.
NoLandGrab: Globalization aside, this still begs the question, should public tax dollars and eminent domain be used to feather the nest of a foreign businessman, who is listed at #40 on Forbes's world's most wealthy list.
RotoTimes.com, Atlantic Division Report
Current Nets owner Bruce Ratner believes that the sale of 80 percent of the Nets to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is the final piece to building an $800 million arena and moving to Brooklyn. The Nets currently play in the Izod Center, the oldest arena in the league. Prokhorov would be the first foreign owner in the NBA if the sale is approved.
Minyanville.com, The NBA, From Russia With Love
One report on the deal totally fudges an important Atlantic Yards stat:
Prokhorov’s ownership conditions would give him a 45% stake in the team’s new arena in downtown Brooklyn. In addition to the arena, the Atlantic Yards projects would create more than 1,000 housing units, with more than half of them being touted as being “affordable or middle-income.”
NoLandGrab: Ratner added condos to his project after striking the "50/50" deal with ACORN, which bring the percentage of "affordable or middle-income" housing units down to roughly 35%.
Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM
September 29, 2009
Marty hails Nets' buyer
The NY Post
By Rich Calder
After a week, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz broke his studied silence over Bruce Ratner's deal to sell a majority stake in the NJ Nets and a minorty share of the oneday-to-be-built arena to Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov.
"Brooklyn is the Russian capital of America, so Mr. Prokhorov will feel right at home here, and I have been assured he will put the interests of Brooklyn first when it comes to making [the planned] Barclays Center and its benefits to Brooklyn a reality," Markowitz told the Post.
The beep sought to dispute borough politicians and political operates sourced in Friday’s edition who said Markowitz behind closed doors is embarrassed and angry over developer Bruce Ratner’s announcement last week that he plans to sell a majority stake in the Nets to Prokhorov.
NoLandGrab: Brooklynites can rest assured that Marty has "been assured" that Prokhorov "will put the interests of Brooklyn first?" That's hardly believable, or a ringing endorsement for that matter.
Thanks Marty and Bruce, we can now look forward to the use of tax dollars and eminent domain to further enrich a Russian oligarch "Mr. Prokhorov will feel right at home here" indeed.
Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons" said it best, "Welcome to the American dream: a billionaire using public funds, to construct a private playground for the rich and powerful."
Atlantic Yards Report, Finally, Marty Markowitz embraces the Prokhorov purchase of the Nets and the arena
It took a little while--and an anonymously sourced New York Post story saying he was steamed and embarrassed--but Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz now says he's happy Russian mogul Mikhail Prokhorov is buying 80% of the Nets and 45% of the Barclays Center.
Note that Markowitz is not talking about the project's benefits to Brooklyn, because the timetable is very murky.
As for benefits to Brooklyn, no one's quite toted them up. We know that the New York City Independent Budget Office says the arena would be a net loss for the city.
NoLandGrab: For the record, Marty didn't say he was "happy," only that he was "assured."
Posted by lumi at 5:12 AM
Nets' Would-Be Buyer Portrayed as Enigmatic Russian Doll
The Village Voice's Roy Edroso reviews the media's take on the Russian oligarch who agreed to purchase a majority share in the NJ Nets and bail out Bruce Ratner's floundering Atlantic Yards project.
Mikhail Prokhorov wants to buy the Nets; the Jersey Star-Ledger takes a look at him. The billionaire has "suspected ties to organized crime," but that's "not uncommon in Russia, according to Rusal's own website." His largest U.S. operation is the country's only palladium and platinum producer, which he bought with the help of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Carlyle Group.
This weekend the Times offered a more light-hearted take from Moscow-based correspondent Clifford J. Levy: "Oligarchs have their share of occupational hazards: heavily armed rivals, stupendously corrupt bureaucrats," etc., but can Prokhorov face down longtime Atlantic Yards project opponent Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn?
Posted by lumi at 5:03 AM
Charges dropped against Bruce Ratner's new business partner
You know that the saga of Ratnerville has devolved into the absurd when NoLandGrab informs its readers that all charges have been dropped in a prostitution case against a multi-billionaire Russian oligarch.
Russia Today, Billionaire's alleged prostitution ring case closed
A case in which Russia's richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, was arrested by French police investigating prostitution has been dismissed due to lack of evidence of any crime, according to the billionaire's lawyer.
Prokhorov himself described the closure of the case as "logical."
"I said initially that the case is a void. Its closure is logical. I am satisfied," the billionaire said in his blog.
Prokhorov also owns an investment vehicle, Onexim Group, while one of his main assets is Polyus Gold, Russia's largest gold producer.
The tycoon signed on Wednesday a letter of intent with New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner to acquire a majority stake in the club and to take part in Ratner's Atlantic Yards mega-development project to construct a sports, residential and business complex in Brooklyn.
Posted by lumi at 4:57 AM
Getting to know the Russian buying Nets at a discount
The subscription-only Sports Business Journal takes a look at Bruce Ratner's deal with Mikhail Prokhorov to bail out the struggling franchise and megaproject.
Who is Mikhail Prokhorov and what does his deal to buy the New Jersey Nets mean for the future of U.S. sports team ownership? Those were the questions running through sports business circles last week after the announced sale of the New Jersey Nets to the Russian multibillionaire...
Forbes Editor Indicates Prokhorov's Investment Just One-Third What Team, Arena Are Worth Forbes National Editor Mike Ozanian indicated that prospective Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov's $200M investment for 80% of the franchise and 45% of the proposed Barclays…
Posted by lumi at 4:49 AM
September 28, 2009
The Curious Case of the Nets' Ownership
The Wall Street Journal
By Brad Parks
The bizarre deal with Mikhail Prokhorov is only the next colorful chapter for a "storied" franchise:
But the Russian oligarch will have to work hard to match the antics produced by his predecessors. This, after all, is a franchise whose first NBA owner, Roy Boe, financed its entry into the league by selling its best player, Julius Erving.
Still, if there's one thing that encourages the Nets' remaining diehard fans about Mr. Prokhorov, it's this: He couldn't be any zanier.
Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM