One of Russia’s richest men, businessman Mikhail Prokhorov, is set to acquire a majority share in the New Jersey Nets basketball club for just one US dollar, reports Sport Express.
The Russian newspaper reports that the deal – giving Prokhorov a stake in the team – is almost complete.
In turn, Prokhorov, who is a former mining executive, will invest at least $700 in building a new arena for the Nets, Reuters reports.
Prokhorov’s Onexim group confirmed that an offer was made.
“It is possible. The investment group has received an offer to build a stadium for the New Jersey Nets. It’s too early to say what’s going to come out of it. Business is business,” Onexim PR director Igor Ketrov said.
Mikhail Prokhorov – an avid sports fan – used to support Russian basketball club CSKA, the two-time Euroleague champion.
“I know him very well. He is a huge fan of basketball. If you take a look at the local level, he turned CSKA into one of the best teams in Europe. I’m pretty sure his goal with the New Jersey Nets is to do the same thing,” assured Andrey Kirilenko, star of basketball team Utah Jazz in an interview with RT.
The New Jersey Nets are currently ranked the 26th most valuable of the 30 NBA teams by Forbes magazine.
The Onexim group is considering issuing the money in the form of a bond which must be submitted before the end of 2009 to avoid government taxes, said a source close to the deal as quoted by Reuters.
“This is a pure business story. The potential value of the club and arena are very high,” the source said to Reuters.
The former chief executive of Norilsk Nickel, who is worth $9.5 billion according to Forbes Russia, funded the Moscow CSKA football club while he was working for the company.
Prokhorov is not the first Russian businessman to acquire a major foreign team. Fellow countryman and oil tycoon Roman Abramovich bought powerhouse London football club Chelsea in 2003.