Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is exploring a sale of the team, Bloomberg.com reported Tuesday, a notion a spokeswoman for the Russian multibillionaire sought to downplay.
“As we have said for many months, ownership is always open to listening to offers — that’s just good business,” Ellen Pinchuk wrote in a statement. “There is nothing imminent in terms of a sale of any stake in the team.”
Still, Bloomberg reported that Prokhorov has retained Evercore Partners to sell the team, citing two people with direct knowledge of his plans.
The Nets declined to comment.
Prokhorov owns 80 percent of the team. He paid $223 million to become the Nets’ majority owner in May 2010.
The Russian economy — and the ruble — has taken a beating in recent months amid falling oil prices and Western sanctions against the country.
Prokhorov also owns 45 percent of Barclays Center; Bloomberg reported his stake in the arena is not for sale.
It is difficult to assess NBA franchise’s values in the wake of the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last year for $2 billion. The Nets presumably are worth well over $1 billion, given their location in New York and their television deal with YES.
The Atlanta Hawks currently are for sale, a price that will help clarify the market, post-Clippers sale.
This is not the first time Prokhorov has reported to be exploring selling at least part of the Nets. Yahoo! Sports reported in June that Prokhorov was listening to potential offers. Prokhorov denied that he was interested in selling the team. Another report surfaced in October that Prokhorov was in ongoing discussions to potentially combine assets with the group that co-owns the Los Angeles Dodgers with Magic Johnson, but not to sell the team.
And last April The Wall Street Journal reported that Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner was looking to sell his remaining 20-percent stake in the team.