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The Nets are for sale

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The Nets’ Russian oligarch owner is looking to unload the team.

Reputed billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has hired an international investment bank to shop around Brooklyn’s home team, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday. A rep for the former Russian presidential candidate confirmed that the team is for sale, but claimed that is nothing new.

“As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers — that’s just good business,” spokeswoman Ellen Pinchuk said in an e-mail. “There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.”

One expert said that there are going to be a lot of takers.

“If this comes to the market, everybody and his brother would be looking at this thing,” said Sal Galatioto, whose firm Galatioto Sports Partners has been involved as an advisor in the sales of several professional basketball teams. “It’s Brooklyn, it’s Barclays, there’s sizzle. Not just people from the New York metro area would be interested but wealthy people throughout the United States and across the world.”

Bloomberg’s anonymously sourced report stated that Prokhorov wanted to sell his 80 percent stake and had retained the firm Evercore Partners to broker a deal.

A representative of Evercore declined to comment on the matter as did Nets spokesman Barry Baum, who deferred to Pinchuk’s statement.

Prokhorov dropped more than $200 million in 2010 to buy his majority stake in the team and 45 percent of ownership of Barclays Center. Given the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers in August amid the fallout over owner Donald Sterling’s racist rants, commentators have speculated that Prokhorov could walk away with a healthy profit despite the Nets’ lackluster on-court record.

One source with knowledge of the industry but not the specific deal said Prokhorov could be pulling up stakes in Brooklyn because of the tanking Russian economy, which has been hit hard in recent months by plummeting oil prices and sanctions levied in response to Russia’s support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Prokhorov is not selling his stake in Barclays Center, according to Bloomberg.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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