SBD/Issue 5/Franchises

Ratner Reportedly Closing In On Nets Sale To Russian Billionaire

Prokhorov May Soon Buy
Majority Stake In Nets
Nets Owner Bruce Ratner is "inching closer to selling a majority stake in the team" to Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, according to sources cited by Charles Bagli of the N.Y. TIMES. Ratner in recent weeks has acknowledged that he is "talking to potential investors," and sources indicated that Prokhorov is the "leading contender to buy a majority stake in the team" and the planned Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Bagli notes Ratner has been "eager to bring in new blood," as his Forest City Enterprises development company, which owns 23% of the team, has endured about $380M in "pretax net losses over the past five years" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). In Moscow, Ira Iosebashvili notes Ratner in July reportedly discussed a deal with Prokhorov, and a source claims that Prokhorov's "interest in the team has not waned." No Russian has "ever owned a piece of a major American sports franchise," but "several have become owners or major shareholders" in soccer clubs, including Roman Abramovich with Chelsea and Alisher Usmanov with Arsenal (MOSCOW TIMES, 9/18).

ALL SYSTEMS GO: In N.Y., Rich Calder reports the Empire State Development Corp. Thursday gave final approval to a revised plan for the Atlantic Yards development, allowing Ratner to "secure private land needed" (N.Y. POST, 9/18). CRAIN'S N.Y. BUSINESS's Amanda Fung noted the approval, which had been "widely anticipated, is expected however to spark yet another round of lawsuits from groups that have opposed the project from the start" (CRAINSNEWYORK.com, 9/17).

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