- Billionaire buying out Bruce Ratner's Forest City Enterprises
- NBA owners must approve transfers of franchise ownership
Mikhail Prokhorov and real estate developer Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Enterprises Inc. have reached an agreement that will give the Russian billionaire sole ownership of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks.
The National Basketball Association is reviewing the deal, the terms of which weren’t disclosed. Earlier this year, valuations expert Peter Schwartz said the Nets and Barclays Center are worth about $2 billion. Since then, Atlanta’s NBA franchise, the Hawks, was sold for $730 million.
Prokhorov, through his Onexim Sports & Entertainment, currently owns 80 percent of the NBA team and 45 percent of the Brooklyn arena, which opened in 2012 and is also home to hockey’s New York Islanders. Forest City owns the remaining stakes.
Gaining control of the arena -- and full ownership of the team -- would make it easier for Prokhorov to sell all or part of either asset, including minority partnerships in the team, arena or both.
In January, Bloomberg News reported that Prokhorov and Ratner, acting separately, had retained Evercore Partners to sell their stakes in the team. But the NBA prefers the same owner to control the team and the arena, and neither owner could find a buyer willing to pay the reported $250 million asking price for a minority stake in a losing team.
Nets spokesman Barry Baum, by e-mail, declined to comment. Forest City spokesman Jeff Linton didn’t immediately return a voice message.
The Nets are 5-13 this season, the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference.