Paging Steve Ballmer: NBA’s Brooklyn Nets Up For Sale

Mikhail Prokhorov Looking To Sell Brooklyn Nets

Prokhorov has owned the team since 2010, but is now looking to sell it with the help of Evercore Partners. The information comes from two sources, who spoke to Reuters on the condition that they would remain anonymous.

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Business as usual?

Both Nets spokesman Barry Baum and Evercore spokesman Dana Gorman declined to comment.

“As we have been saying for many months, team ownership is open to listening to offers,” said Ellen Pinchuk, a spokeswoman for Prokhorov. “That’s just part of the business. There is nothing imminent in terms of the sale of any stake in the team.”

Russian billionaire Prokhorov became the first non-American owner of an NBA team when he bought an 80% stake in the Nets. He also owns 45% of the Barclays Center, which is home to the Nets and will also host home games for the New York Islanders hockey team from next season.

Potentially huge sale

The sources claim that only the team is up for sale, and valuations expert Peter Schwartz claims it is worth around $1.3 billion. However the team could end up selling for far more, given its presence in the largest media market in the U.S. and the fact that franchises become available so infrequently.

The prices of sports teams have been boosted by the $2 billion acquisition of the Los Angeles Clippers by ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Prokhorov’s decision could be linked to the developing economic crisis in Russia and the effect it has had on weakening the ruble. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken out on the responsibilities of the country’s oligarchs in paying taxes at home, and has a long record of persecuting rich Russians who are not part of his inner circle. Prokhorov ran against Putin in the last Russian presidential race two years ago.

The Nets are now the second NBA team up for sale, joining the Atlanta Hawks. It is interesting time to invest in the NBA, with league revenue booming.

Although no one has mentioned it, never count Steve Ballmer out of the race.