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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prokhorov Steps Toward NBA

ReutersProkhorov speaking in a talent competition in Moscow on Thursday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov moved a step closer to becoming the NBA’s first non-North American owner on Wednesday.

Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings and the company that owns the Nets announced that they completed their agreement to create a partnership that would own the NBA team and develop the Atlantic Yards project in New York City.

The agreement provides for the sale of 80 percent of the Nets and 45 percent of a new Nets arena to Prokhorov’s Onexim, subject to approval by the NBA Board of Governors.

It also includes an option for Prokhorov to acquire up to 20 percent of Atlantic Yards, which would surround the new Barclays Center arena with apartments and office towers on 9 hectares in Brooklyn.

Forest City Ratner, which is led by Nets majority owner Bruce Ratner, and Nets Sports and Entertainment signed a letter of intent with Prokhorov on Sept. 23.

Wednesday’s announcement came one day after Forest City Ratner announced that $511 million in tax-free bonds for the Barclays Center had been sold. Project opponents had hoped that the bond sale would fall flat and end the project.

Ratner plans to have a master closing on the Barclays Center next week.

Construction crews have been cleaning up the Brooklyn site and tearing down buildings since the summer. A date has not been set for a groundbreaking on the new arena.

“I am looking forward to working with Bruce and his team to bring a world-class entertainment and sports center to the heart of New York City,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “Brooklyn is an exceptionally attractive market for a new arena, and the Barclays Center will provide a fantastic home for the Nets.”

Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who played for Prokhorov’s CSKA Moscow before joining the NBA, expects his countryman to make the Nets into a title contender.

“He is going to be a great owner,” Kirilenko said Wednesday. “He is a guy who has a passion for basketball, and he’s a successful businessman. Everything he touches turns into a very successful project, and I hope New Jersey will be the same.”

Kirilenko said Prokhorov will not only throw money into making the Nets a winner, he will make the team financially successful.

“Not a lot of players want to go to New Jersey now because of the situation — losing, not having a good base,” Kirilenko said. “He will start from scratch and build everything and make it desirable for people to be here and make it desirable for the fans.”

The cash-strapped Ratner had been searching for a major investor for more than a year.

The NBA Board of Governors is expected to rule on the sale and relocation by early next year.

Ratner and his development company hope to finish the arena by 2011. They eventually plan to add apartment towers and office buildings.