Mikhail Prokhorov to Buy Nets, Team to Move to Brooklyn

Russian billionaire takes over basketball team

Mikhail Prokhorov image from Wikimedia.

Mikhail Prokhorov image from Wikimedia.

What would you do if you had billions of dollars? If you were Mikhail Prokhorov, you’d buy a basketball team — or at least most of one. New York Daily News confirms that Mikhail Prokhorov, who is worth more than $9 billion, will become the new majority owner of the Nets early next year.

The New Jersey Nets will become the Brooklyn Nets, adding yet another professional basketball franchise to the New York roster. Mikhail Prokhorov will take over 80 percent ownership of the team.

Countdown to Brooklyn base

Thanks to Mikhail Prokhorov’s billions, the team won’t be needing any unsecured loans in order to move to its “state-of-the-art facility in Brooklyn, with its rich sports heritage,” said a press release from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

But the Nets are not moving right away. Though Mikhail Prokhorov will take over majority ownership of the team in early 2010, the Nets will not move to Brooklyn until the 2011-2012 season. The move might happen before or during season league play.

Nets’ new ownership

Though Mikhail Prokhorov will be majority shareholder for the Nets, the NBA franchise’s current owner, Bruce Ratner, will still have some ownership of the team.

“We are one step closer to achieving our goals of creating much needed jobs and economic development for Brooklyn and the city,” Ratner said in the NBA press release.

Of course, this also means an economic loss for New Jersey. It also likely means we will soon be hearing from a lot of Nets fans from New Jersey who don’t want to see their team relocate. But business is business, right?

More on Mikhail

Prokhorov is the richest person in Russia, and the 40th richest person in the world. He paid $700 million to acquire majority ownership of the Nets. Mikhail Prokhorov is a self-made billionaire, and he runs the $17 billion investment fund Onexim Group.

Thus far, his investments have mostly focused on development of nanotechnology, including hydrogen fuel cells, as well as other high-technology projects and non-ferrous and precious metals mining. His acquisition of the Nets marks his first foray into American sports, and he will also be acquiring 45 percent ownership in the Atlantic Yards project.

“Interest in basketball and the NBA is growing rapidly on a global basis and we are especially encouraged by Mr. Prokhorov’s commitment to the Nets and the opportunity it presents to continue the growth of basketball in Russia,” Stern said.

Other recent posts by bryanh