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Mikhail Prokhorov cashing out of gold to prepare for mayoral run in Moscow?

Bruce Bennett

Mikhail Prokhorov has spent time talking with Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York. Like Bloomberg, Prokhorov has media interests and like Bloomberg, he has a personal fortune of more than $10 billion.

And now, like Bloomberg, Prokhorov would like to be the mayor ... of Moscow.

Over the past week and a half, ever since Prokhorov sold his stake in Polyus Gold for $3.6 billion, there have been more than a few hints in the Russian media that the Nets owner is getting ready to run for the mayor of Moscow, or at least the city Duma, or city council. The mayoral election is two years away, the Duma next year.

Prokhorov, who is according to Forbes the 69th richest man on earth, has been increasingly critical of the city administration on his blog and in tweets. In the past few months, he has attacked a new Moscow Metro policy prohibiting commuters from buying fewer that five tickets on the city subway and condemned an increase in the city vehicle tax. He's also continued to criticize Vladimir Putin, as the head of the Civic Platform party. Should he decide to run for mayor and win, it would provide him with a national stage for another run at the presidency in 2018. Prokhorov did will in Moscow in the 2012 presidential election.

In addition to selling off his interests in Polyus Gold, he has offered up certain assets of Renaissance Capital, his investment bank and is reportedly selling his interest in Quadra, a power company.

As the Financial Times wrote last week, "Moscow gossips say Prokhorov could hang on to his media interests and style himself as a Russian version of Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York and founder of the Bloomberg news agency."

Will it affect the Nets? Unlikely. Barring a surprise, Prokhorov and his ownership group give no indication of wanting to the dump the team.