Bloomberg Sports Business writer Scott Soshnick reports that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has put the Brooklyn Nets up for sale, citing two sources that Prokhorov has hired wealth management firm Evercore to oversee the process. Prokhorov owns 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of Barclays Center. Only the team is up for sale, the report states, and there is no indication that a sale is imminent.
ESPN’s Mike Mazzeo reported this statement from Prokhorov’s spokesperson: “As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers – that’s just good business. There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.”
From the Bloomberg report:
“It’s a unique asset which is going to garner national and international interest,” said Sal Galatioto, founder of New York-based advisory firm Galatioto Sports Partners, which has sold NBA teams including the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns.
Galatioto declined to put a price tag on the team, which valuations expert Peter Schwartz said 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 their home in the No. 1 U.S. media market, and the infrequency with which marquee franchises become available, the Nets might fetch more than the record $2 billion former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers in a frenzied auction sparked by racist comments made by former owner Donald Sterling, Schwartz said.
The report also cited the weakened Russian Ruble, noting that Prokhorov’s willingness to sell was an “interesting development”:
“Given the recent speculation that Mr. Prokhorov might sell his interest in light of the slumping Eastern European economies this is certainly an interesting development,” said Chuck Baker, head of sports mergers and acquisition as a partner in DLA Piper’s Global Sports, Media and Entertainment practice.
Evercore was previously hired by Nets former majority owner Bruce Ratner to facilitate a sale of his stake, but no deal was ever reached, per the report. Ratner ended up selling his majority shares to Prokhorov. Ratner still owns 20 percent of the Nets and the majority stake in Barclays Center.
The Nets had discussions with the Guggenheim partnership, which owns the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Brooklyn Dodgers trademark, about a “combination of assets” earlier this year, but no agreement was reached. In response to that report on October 7th, Nets general manager Billy King said that Prokhorov was “not selling.”
As of January 13, the Nets are 155-195 in the Mikhail Prokhorov era, with two playoff appearances.