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September 24, 2009

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Russian tycoon eyes Nets

RUSSIAN tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov says in his blog that he has made an offer to buy the New Jersey Nets.

Prokhorov, considered Russia's richest man, said on Tuesday on his blog that he sent team shareholders an offer over the weekend. Under the proposal, Prokhorov's holding company Onexim would obtain a controlling share in the NBA team in return for loaning the money to build a new arena.

No monetary figures were given, but the blog posting says the controlling shares would be obtained for "a symbolic price." Sources close to the billionaire have previously estimated the overall value of any deal at US$700 million.

Nets owner Bruce Ratner faces a crucial December deadline for his plan to build an arena in Brooklyn and move his team there in 2011. The construction needs to break ground by then or lose access to the tax-free bonds financing much of the project.

Prokhorov, who owns a share in the Russian basketball team CSKA, has been ranked as the country's richest man in the Russian edition of Forbes, with an estimated fortune of US$9.5 billion. He has weathered the global economic crisis better than many of his wealthy compatriots by cashing out of some lucrative assets before the downturn battered commodity markets.

In the blog posting, Prokhorov writes that his interest in a deal stems from a desire to improve Russian basketball by getting access to NBA training methods and sending Russian coaches for internships in the league.


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