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Prokhorov yet to find buyer for Nets stake, says he’s committed to team

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Six months after he said he planned to sell a minority stake in the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov told RIA Novosti, the Russian news agency, Friday that he hasn’t yet found a buyer. The Nets long time owner also confirmed reports that he wants to sell 49 percent of the team, valued by Forbes at nearly $900 million.

Also, on Friday, Prokhorov told TASS, another Russian news agency, “I’m committed to the Nets and will remain the majority owner of the team"

Prokhorov said in November that he’d hired Allen & Co. to find a local minority investor for the Nets “to further strengthen the team’s New York presence in order to expand upon our business and community relationships.” At the time, he didn’t put a precise number on the stake he wants to sell, but there were reports, including on NetsDaily that he wanted to sell “up to 49 percent.”

The news comes while Prokhorov is hosting Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson in the Russian capital. The two are discussing Nets off-season plans and on Thursday, they and two Moscow-based directors of the team, Chairman Dmitry Razumov and Sergey Kushchenko, watched CSKA Moscow and free agent Milos Teodosic play Baskonia in the Euroleague playoffs.

According to NBA sources, several prospective buyers have approached Allen & Co., his investment bankers, or league offices since November. However, the price is high and there is the issue of whether any minority investor would be granted an option to buy a controlling interest and when.

Also, the NBA reportedly wanted the Russian oligarch to sell equal stakes in the team and Barclays Center. The Nets resisted doing that. It’s unknown if ownership and the league have resolved the issue. The league reportedly believed there’s a potential for a conflict-of-interest without such a joint sale. The combined value of the two assets is $1.8 billion, according to Forbes.

Both team and arena are owned wholly by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Prokhorov’s holding company. It also owns the controlling stake in Nassau Coliseum and has deals to develop and/or manage three entertainment venues: LIU Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, the Ford Amphitheater in Coney Island and Webster Hall in Manhattan. BS&E also owns the Long Island Nets, the D-League team.

Bloomberg News has reported that with his purchases in the U.S. and his sales of assets in Russia, Prokhorov now has more of his assets in the United States. Prokhorov has been unloading his assets in Russia, selling stakes in Uralkali, the big potash miner; RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminium producer; and OPIN, his Moscow property developer. He is close to selling RBC, a media company, and looking for buyers for Renaissance Capital, an investment banking house.

The sales drive in Moscow started a year ago this week after Russian authorities raided the offices of his main holding company, ONEXIM, then followed up with raids on RBC and Renaissance. At the time, sources close to RBC told Reuters the searches were prompted by Kremlin anger at the revelations it published, specifically about the finances of President Vladimir Putin’s daughter. The Kremlin has denied any link, claiming they were part of tax investigations.

Prokhorov ran for President of Russia in 2012, garnering 8.8 percent of the vote. He has since publicly abandoned political ambitions.