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Various news reports confirm NetsDaily report on Nets - Dodgers talks

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Bruce Bennett

The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post and USA Today all confirm Thursday's NetsDaily report that Mikhail Prokhorov prefers to retain control of the Nets while combining assets with Guggenheim Sports and Entertainment Assets, an affiliate of Guggenheim Partners. Another affiliate, Guggenheim Baseball Management, own the Los Angeles Dodgers. NetsDaily reported exclusively that officials of the Nets and Dodgers ownership met in Moscow Monday to discuss a "combination of assets" --with Prokhorov retaining control of the team.

Mark Walter, chairman of the Dodgers, told USA Today's Bob Nightengale and Jeff Zillgitt, "We're going ahead hopefully."

Rather than sell, the Daily News' Mitch Abramson reports, "Prokhorov held the meeting to look into ways to expand his sports and entertainment portfolio."

Richard Sandomir of the Times notes that in seeking to combine the assets, "Prokhorov is trying to capitalize as N.B.A. team values soar and new national media contracts with ESPN and TNT that are about to be announced promise a big leap in revenue for each team."

The various reports also confirmed --and quoted-- NetsDaily's report on the Monday meeting in Moscow and the proposed valuations of the team --$1.7 billion-- and Barclays Center --$1.1 billion. (Just as Prokhorov would retain control of the team, Bruce Ratner would retain control of the arena, source told NetsDaily.)

Abramson quoted a source familiar with the Russian oligarch's thinking this way, "He’s not a seller. He wants the Nets and he loves the Nets and he wants to be controlling owner. This is something that he really enjoys."

Asked to gauge the validity of the NetsDaily report with subsequent reports by Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated and ESPN that Prokhorov might be willing to see the team, the source told Abramson, "only the first picture is accurate."

Sandomir said completing the deal would be a major undertaking for the two teams, but quoted a sports finance analyst as saying Todd Boehly, the Guggenheim Partners CEO who flew to Moscow, "has a history of seeing and creating value where others believe it doesn’t exist. He’s done it with the Dodgers, he did it with Dick Clark Productions and he’ll do it again and again."

Tim Bontemps and Joel Kosman of the Post added that a "sports banker" had told them "Guggenheim is offering the premium to pre-empt any auction for the whole team and arena."

Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter told USA Today that his Guggenheim group is interested in acquiring a piece of the Brooklyn Nets.

"We're going ahead hopefully. I haven't seen any numbers on it. I think it's a great franchise," Walter said. "I haven't heard that it is signed.''

Meanwhile, Nets investor tells NetsDaily that Guggenheim, Prokhorov and Ratner already working together on Nassau Coliseum.

None of the reports indicated the status of the talks or when they may lead to an agreement in principle on forming an alliance. The Daily News source said that any deal that is made with another group would be a "merger and not a sale" but that nothing is imminent.