Billionaire oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s richest man well-known as a sports fan, could become the first foreign owner of a major US basketball team after making a bid for the New Jersey Nets.
Prokhorov had offered to fund a new $700m stadium for the NBA team in New York and he would then acquire the Nets for a symbolic $1 stake.
He boasts that if his move is successful, it would be the first time a National Basketball Association club would come under foreign control.
“We are only interested in the project if we can use the techniques of the NBA for the systematic development of basketball in Russia,” Prokhorov wrote. “
The professional league that we have, as everybody knows, can’t earn money on its own.”
Prokhorov has weathered the financial crisis much better than peers, after presciently selling his stake in the nickel firm Norilsk Nickel in spring 2008, just before the market collapsed.
Russia’s Forbes magazine estimates that he lost $13.1bn in the crash. But he still has more than anyone else in Russia, including Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club.
Abramovich is currently in second place, according to Forbes, with a mere $8.5bn.