Brooklyn Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov is close to a deal to buy out the remaining ownership shares of the Nets and the Barclays Center – the team’s home arena – from co-owner Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Enterprises, the New York Post reported Thursday. The negotiations are unfolding less than a year after Prokhorov reportedly explored a potential sale of his Nets ownership stake.
Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, would acquire Ratner’s 20 percent ownership stake in the Nets, as well as Forest City Enterprises' 55 percent share of the Barclays Center, the report said. It’s unclear so far how much Prokhorov would spend to purchase the stakes. Prokhorov’s willingness to excuse Forest City Enterprise’s share of the team’s financial losses, totaling about $31 million, is a key aspect of the proposed deal, sources told the New York Post.
Forest City Enterprises’ interest in selling its stake in the Nets and the Barclays Center stems from a desire to forgo sports investments to focus on real estate development, an unnamed analyst told the newspaper. The firm was reportedly unable to find an outside buyer for its stakes.
Earlier this year, Prokhorov hired Evercore Partners to consult on a potential sale of his Nets ownership sale. Prokhorov owns 45 percent of the Barclays Center and 80 percent of the Nets, having bought the franchise in 2010 for about $225 million. His stake in the Barclays Center was never put up for sale, Bloomberg Business reported in January.
“As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers – that’s just good business," the Nets said in a statement to ESPN last January. “There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.”
An unnamed analyst who spoke to the New York Post placed the franchise’s actual value at about $700 million, with debt estimated at $210 million. Separately, the Barclays Center is reportedly $640 million in debt.