Breathing New Life Into Barclays

Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Group is set to take over the reins as a principal owner in the New Jersey Nets and investor in the team’s future home in New York.

Barclays Arena developer and current Nets owner Forest City Ratner announced Sept. 23 that the partnership with Onexim will “ensure the successful completion of a world-class entertainment venue in Brooklyn, the relocation of the NBA Nets basketball team and the economic and housing benefits of the Atlantic Yards Project.”

Under the terms of the deal, Onexim would invest $200 million to acquire 45 percent of the Barclays project and 80 percent of the team.

“Mikhail and Onexim will be great partners for this project,” Forest City CEO Bruce Ratner said in a statement. “I am thrilled that smart global investors appreciate the exciting economic potential of Brooklyn. We are one step closer to achieving our goals of creating much needed jobs and economic development for Brooklyn and the city.”

Prokhorov, who would become the first non-North American owner of an NBA team, said he has a “long-standing passion for basketball and pursuing interests that forward the development of the sport in Russia.”

The deal awaits approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors and is expected to close early next year.

If passed, the deal could take at least some of the financial burden off Forest City, which is attempting to raise nearly $800 million in tax-exempt financing before the end of the year to begin the Barclays construction.

The developer still faces an appellate hearing next month regarding the use of eminent domain in the development.