Brooklyn Nets takeover talk intensifies

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is willing to give up control of the NBA basketball franchise for the right price, according to the ESPN.com website.

The Russian billionaire (pictured) has owned the Nets since 2010 and also has a significant stake in its Barclays Center home. Prokhorov has been testing the water in the NBA marketplace in recent months and ESPN said this interest has now intensified, adding that an asking price of $1.2bn (€937.5m) for the team and $1.1bn for the arena is being sought.

ESPNNewYork.com said the Nets have held talks with investment services company Guggenheim Partners, adding that Prokhorov recently met with Guggenheim executive and Los Angeles Dodgers minority owner Todd Boehly in Russia. The NetsDaily.com website added that the two sides discussed a “combination of assets” with Prokhorov remaining in control of the Nets and the team’s minority owner Bruce Ratner maintaining control of the Barclays Center.

However, Dodgers chairman and Guggenheim chief executive Mark Walter has stressed any deal would not involve control of the MLB baseball franchise, which is owned by Guggenheim Baseball Management. He said: “I am the controlling owner of the Dodgers and I have no intention of selling the Dodgers or moving them into a new ownership group.”

Walter acknowledged that he had not seen the Nets financials but “they are a terrific franchise and I would be happy to look at their information and any proposal anyone wanted to make to me – as I would with any proposal.”

Prokhorov is said to have gauged interest in the Nets after the recent takeover of rival NBA franchise the Los Angeles Clippers. Steve Ballmer, the former chief executive of software giant Microsoft, in August completed his takeover of the Clippers for an NBA record $2bn.

Prokhorov acquired majority ownership of the then New Jersey Nets in May 2010 for $223m. The team changed its name to the Brooklyn Nets in 2012 to mark its move to its new arena. The Russian’s current stake includes 80 per cent of the team and 45 per cent of the Barclays Center.