Russia's Richest Man, A Cash-Strapped NBA Team

September, 17, 2009
9/17/09
3:24
PM ET

Reuters has been reporting on the possibility that billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov might infuse the Nets with the capital they need to become a presence in Brooklyn.

A spokesman for Prokhorov's Onexim investment vehicle confirmed on Thursday it had been approached to participate in building the Nets' long-awaited arena in Brooklyn and was preparing an offer.

A spokesman for the Nets had no immediate comment, while officials with the National Basketball Association could not be reached. The Nets are owned by developer Bruce Ratner.

Prokhorov is considering issuing a bond worth $700 million through Onexim to help fund the project, one source close to the deal said.

Is it real? Is the NBA really about to welcome an "oligarch" into the ownership club?

Who knows? But it is interesting to note that the Wikipedia entry on Prokhorov says that teams like to drop his name, apparently as a way of stirring other investors.

There's a global tendency to report that Mikhail Prokhorov is becoming a strategic investor of some companies or sport clubs with deep financial problems in order to attract an interest to their activities. New Jersey Nets and FC Roma are also in the list. 

His name has been connected to the Nets for some time, along with speculation that he might now want to let the NBA dig into his finances as part of the ownership vetting. On Nets Daily, commenter Mike writes: "As for the NBA vetting process, the NBA loves money. Vetting process, no problem."

Nets Daily also recently had an in-depth breakdown of the prospects of the Nets being sold to Prokhorov or others.

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