Monday, March 2, 2015

Nets drawing interest from China, Qatar and Hollywood: Report

It looks like Mikhail Prokhorov's five-year window for a Brooklyn Nets championship is about to close without a title, even though the Russian billionaire will still come out a big winner himself — at least financially.

The Nets are for sale and there is no shortage of suitors showing interest as the free-spending Prokhorov gets ready for his own big payday.

Chinese conglomerate Fosun and the Qatari government’s investment fund have signaled an interest in buying the pro basketball team from majority owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

Interest is also coming from music mogul David Geffen, who considered a bid for the LA Clippers last year before the NBA team was sold for a record $2 billion to former Microsoft chieftain Steve Ballmer.

Even former Time Warner boss Dick Parsons, who was interim chief executive of the Clippers when the NBA forced then-owner Donald Sterling to sell the team, has eyed the Nets, sources said.
While Parsons has a long business resumé and the likely blessing of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, he doesn’t have the cash and would need to line up investors, they added.

At least two wealthy US families have also expressed an interest in the Nets.

Prokhorov, the first foreign owner of an NBA team, holds 80 percent of the club and 45 percent of the Barclays Center, its 2 1/2-year-old arena which next season will house hockey’s New York Islanders. Only the Nets franchise is reportedly for sale.

The NBA hasn’t given Prokhorov, who has controlling ownership of the Nets, clarity on whether he can sell his stake in the team separately from his stake in the Barclays Arena, where the Nets play, said one banker close to the sale process.

The league requires an owner to sell the same ratio of team and arena ownership as he originally bought, although it can waive that rule.

The NBA told Prokhorov he had to sell both. But the banker told The Post the league hasn’t made a decision.

“The NBA never told the Nets to sell them together,” the banker said, adding the league has promised Prokhorov a decision soon.

Prokhorov does not want to sell them as a package because fewer buyers can afford both. The Barclays Center alone would be $1.2 billion on top of the team’s $2 billion asking price.

Meanwhile, Forest City Enterprises, which owns the remaining 20 percent of the team, is also shopping its majority 55 percent stake in the Barclays Center.

It's hard to put a price tag on the team, which valuations expert Peter Schwartz thinks it is worth about $1.3 billion. The arena is worth even more, said Schwartz, a managing director at Boston-based Christie & Associates, adding that the commodity tycoon’s combined stake is worth about $2 billion.

Because of the Nets home in the No. 1 U.S. media market, and the infrequency with which marquee sports franchises become available, the Nets could even get more than the record $2 billion former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers in a highly-publicized auction sparked by racist comments made by former owner Donald Sterling.

The Nets and Forest City declined to comment. The NBA and AEG did not return calls to The Post.

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