Recently, Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and wealth management firm Evercore Partners terminated a partnership by which Evercore was facilitating the sale of the Nets.
Forbes goes a little more in detail about the fallout, saying that the partnership was terminated by Evercore — because Prokhorov refused to sell anything but a minority share of a losing team:
One, the “sale process was a mess,” according to one sports banker who regularly represents buyers and sellers of teams. In the weeks leading up to the ESPN report, the banker told me he was “hearing crickets” regarding interest in the Nets. Two, it was Evercore Partners, not Prokhorov, who cut the cord.
The main problem is that Prokhorov has not committed to selling a majority of the Nets and no one is apparently crazy enough to pay big money for a minority stake in a money-losing team. Such a deal would mean the new investor would have no say in how the Nets are run but would likely have to make cash payments to make up for the team’s red ink. As one banker who traded candor for anonymity put it, “No one knew what the deal was.” Apparently Evercore grew frustrated spending time and effort dealing with Prokhorov’s fishing expedition for a minority investor.
On the one hand, Prokhorov looking to sell only minority shares in the team would indicate that he has no plans to leave the team any time soon. But it’s hard to get anyone to buy little power on a sinking ship.
The other team openly on the market is the Atlanta Hawks, who have not been sold after owner Bruce Levenson released racially toned e-mails he’d sent to staffers about his fanbase. The Hawks sale is expected to set a baseline for what the Nets might fetch on the open market. The last franchise sold, the Los Angeles Clippers, went for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.