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Nets Billionaire Woos Russian Fans in U.S. With Snob

Russian Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov
Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s second-richest man with a fortune of $13.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine, bought 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for $200 million and funding commitments this year. Photographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Bloomberg

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is bringing his $100 million Snob media project to the U.S. as he seeks to attract a “global audience” for the New Jersey Nets basketball team.

“Snob” magazine, aimed at “the elite of Russia,” will start selling in the U.S. tomorrow at a cover price of $8 and without translation into English, Prokhorov said. Snob also runs an invitation-only social network and live events.

“We will see some marketing geared toward tapping into Snob to generate basketball fans and tapping into the Nets to generate Snob subscribers,” Prokhorov, 45, said in an e-mailed response to questions from Bloomberg News. “We are looking into the possibilities here.”

Prokhorov, Russia’s second-richest man with a fortune of $13.4 billion, according to Forbes magazine, bought 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, for $200 million and funding commitments this year. The team, his first investment in the country, plans to relocate there for the 2012 season.

The arena is planned as the centerpiece of a $4.9 billion, 22 acre (9-hectare) office and apartment complex in Brooklyn, which is home to about 330,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The Nets need a global audience, Prokhorov said.

‘Target Audience’

“Russians who live in the borough and come to games easily will be an important target audience for ticket sales,” once the Nets move, Prokhorov said. “There is certainly a crossover here with the potential Snob audience.”

Prokhorov said about $100 million has been invested in the Snob media project in the past two years and expects the project to start “breaking even” next year. The first edition distributed in the U.S. features Stepan Pachikov, the founder of Evernote Corp., which produces a note-taking application that helps runs on desktop computers, Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry.

Prokhorov, who in June spent $80 million to acquire a 51 percent stake in OAO RBC Information, a Russian media company that owns the country’s first business channel, said he isn’t interested in new media acquisitions at the moment.

RBC “is a very exciting type of media project that fits what I believe to be a new business model that can make media profitable,” Prokhorov said. “For now, my focus in terms of media is to develop my current assets to their maximum potential.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Maria Kolesnikova in Moscow at mkolesnikova@bloomberg.net; Anastasia Ustinova in St. Petersburg at austinova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter@bloomberg.net; James M. Gomez in Prague jagomez@bloomberg.net

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