Mikhail Prokhorov hints that he may transfer ownership of the Brooklyn Nets to Russia

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Prokhorov, who acquired eighty  percent of the basketball team in 2009 has hinted that he intends to re-register ownership of  the club to one of his Russian-based companies.

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Mikhail Prokhorov / Getty

Mikhail Prokhorov, like a number of his fellow oligarchs, may well be trying to come to terms with the implications of what may well be a long-term cooling off in relationships between the United States, as well as the rest of the Western world,  and Russia in the wake of their recent incursion into Crimean territory.

Prokhorov, owner of 80% of the Brooklyn Nets has raised the hackles of the local fans as well as the NBA by announcing his intentions to transfer control of the Nets to one of his Russian -based companies at a recent press conference held in Moscow. The Russian billionaire went on to add  that the move would  not represent any form of infringement on NBA rules as far as ownership rates are concerned and would be perfectly legal as far as Russian are concerned.

When questioned on the matter Mike Bass, the NBA’s  official spokesman  pointed out that The Brooklyn Nets are owned by Mikhail Prokhorov through a US-based company, and the Association have   yet to receive any official notification or even a request to to transfer the ownership of the Nets to another company.”

According to  political commentators,  Prokhorov’s statement may come as a reaction to a warning issued by representatives of the G7 nations that they are considering applying strong sanctions against Russia if military intervention in the Ukraine continues.

The Russian stock market has already reacted very strongly to even the remotest possibility of sanctions. At the beginning of March when Russian premier Vladimir Putin announced his plans to annex parts of  Crimea, the market dropped by well over 10 percent on a single day, with close to $60 billion dropping off stock values.

LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat posts up Joe Johnson #7 of the Brooklyn Nets during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 12, 2014 / Getty

Should these sanctions come into effect this is every indication that they would have a much more financially damaging effect  that they would not only target the Russian domestic political system and financial framework, but also the powerful oligarchs who have a very strong financial influence in the country.

Mikhail  Prokhorov, estimated to be the second most wealthy Russian, with a personal fortune estimated to be close to $10 billion will undoubtedly feel the effects of any downtown in trading relationships between the US and Russia where he still has considerable business interests.

When questioned on the subject by a member of the local Russian press, Prokhorov replied by stating that he still remained unsure if, in the event that sanctions were imposed, what kind of effect they have on his business interests in the United States, and not only the Brooklyn Nets.

Prokhorov’s  love of  basketball may well stem from the fact that he stands more than two meters tall and reportedly no mean basketball player in his own right. As well as the Brooklyn Nets, he also owns the CSKA Moscow basketball team, who have enjoyed considerable success in the European league, winning it twice as well as reaching the “final four” knockout stages in the last seven seasons. In addition, Mikhail  Prokhorov is also a part owner of the CSKA Moscow hockey and football clubs, and is also a member of the Supreme Council of the Sport Russia organization.

In December 2011, Prokhorov announced his intentions to run as an independent candidate in the 2012 Russian presidential election, through his political party which he called the “Party of Civic Platform “eventually finishing third in the voting, amassing an impressive  7.94% of the total vote.

Prokhorov was at one time chairman of Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium leaving the company in  2007. Before entering politics he was chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold producer, and the  Onexim Group, a leading private investment fund.

 

Mikhail  Prokhorov graduated from the Moscow Finance Institute in 1989, beginning his professional career in  a management position at the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, later moving to the MFK bank when he served as head of the bank’s Management Board.

Prokhorov left MFT to form the Onexim Bank with college friends and Alexander Khloponin and Vladimir Potanin.

In 1992, at the age of 27, Prokhorov went into partnership with Potanin to form Interros, through which they acquired of Norilsk Nickel,  which went on to become one of Russia’s largest nickel and palladium mining and smelting companies.

Mikhail Prokhorov is estimated to be the 32nd richest person on earth as well as a one of its most “eligible bachelors”, living a  true jet setting  lifestyle with homes in United States and Russia as well as his own private island in the Seychelles,  which he can get to from one of his two corporate jets or  either of his two luxury yachts.

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