More Brooklyn-Minded Investers On The Way?

Posted on: July 24th, 2009 by Sebastian Pruiti Comments

Dave D'Alessandro reported yesterday that Bruce Ratner, who is in all kinds of financial trouble, is looking people to invest in the Nets.  According to Dave:

Bruce Ratner's gift for salesmanship is matched only by his determination, as over the past five years he has sold his vision of pro basketball in Brooklyn to countless politicians, sponsors, community groups, and even some economists.

Now the Nets' owner is trying to sell off the most tangible asset he has -- the team, or at least a sizable portion of it.

So far, nobody's buying.

If you are planning on investing, there is only one catch, you must be behind the Brooklyn move.  Two potential investors have been mentioned by name.  They are Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, former NYMEX chairman Vinny Viola, and Terry Semel - the former Yahoo! CEO.

NetsDaily, who always does a great job following and explaining any news related to the Brooklyn moves, have profiles on the first two men.

Mikhail Prokhorov

What are his basketball connections?

Until this season, he was the financier of the Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow, one of the richest teams in the Euroleague and easily the richest team in Russia. Prokhorov is 6’9” but didn’t play basketball past elementary school. He has also supported CSKA’s other teams, including its world-class hockey club. Loves kickboxing.

Vincent Viola

What are his Nets connections?

Viola has been a Nets season ticket holder for 15 years. He has been a major investor in the team since 2004, having joined with Bruce Ratner to buy the team from Lewis Katz and Ray Chambers. Ratner recruited investors from real estate and contracting, Viola from the financial sector. After Ratner, he is the team’s second biggest investor.

He is a member of the Chairman’s Council for the Nets, the group that runs the team and makes all major financial decisions. He has thus been involved in approving major trades and other personnel issues. He attended many of the pre-Draft workouts this spring. In filings with the SEC in 2006, he reported that he spends 20% of his working time on the Nets.

Definitely check out the full profiles (just click the names), it is a real interesting read.