Over the course of the 2017 NBA offseason, there have been conflicting reports on whether Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov intends to sell just a minority share of his franchise, or if he’s seriously considering selling a controlling interest. In his latest report, Josh Kosman of The New York Post reiterates that Prokhorov plans to offload his controlling interest in the Nets, but may do so in a two-part process.
According to Kosman, Prokhorov will look to sell a minority stake in the team first, but will give that buyer a window to purchase the entire franchise — perhaps within three years or so. One source suggested to Kosman that “there will be a new (Nets) owner in the next few years.”
While the idea of selling 49% of the club may sound appealing to Prokhorov, who could retain control while receiving a huge boost to his bank account, there likely aren’t many investors out there interested in spending upwards of $1 billion on less than half of an NBA franchise and not receiving any real power. However, if there’s a clear path to becoming the controlling owner of the Nets, that scenario figures to be much more appealing to potential buyers.
Sources tell Kosman that the Nets believe they can demand a price of at least $2 billion after seeing the Rockets sell for $2.2 billion. Of course, that Rockets sale included operation of the Toyota Center Arena, and Prokhorov doesn’t plan to sell the separately owned Barclays Center, according to Kosman. So it remains to be seen how that will impact the sale price.
As for who might be in the mix as a potential buyer, Kosman reports that Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai has expressed some interest, though reps for his family office, Blue Pool Capital, deny that interest. Other potential suitors – including some “Wall Street types” – have also been doing due diligence on the franchise, according to Kosman, who says that would-be buyers are waiting for clarification on various details before submitting formal offers.
Unlike the Rockets, who made a public statement earlier this summer announcing the franchise was up for sale, the Nets have not officially announced that Prokhorov is looking to sell controlling interest in the team. In fact, according to a NetsDaily report, a spokesman for Prokhorov downplayed the idea that the Russian owner is looking to offload the franchise, at least in the short term.
“We have received multiple offers with varying formats for buying a part or all of the Nets,” that spokesman said. “We are not considering any proposals that preclude our ongoing participation in the Nets for years to come. Mikhail continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of the team and remains committed to the Nets.”