Move over, Mark Cuban. There's a new B.M.O.C. in NBA basketball, and his name is Mikhail Prokhorov.
Reportedly worth $2.3 billion, Cuban -- hedge fund honcho and owner of the Dallas Mavericks -- has had a good run. But he's been pushed out of the headlines this week by news that Russia's richest man, Onexim Group owner Prokhorov, is laying out $200 million to purchase an 80% share in the New Jersey Nets, alongside a 45% stake in the Nets' new stadium.
Prokhorov says he's doing the deal in the interests of "developing Russian basketball, which will get access to the most modern techniques of sports management and work with young talent." But if that's the case, he might want to take a closer look at the sports page. The Nets went 34 and 48 last season, repeating their 2008 performance and tying for 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
Personally, I think Prokhorov may be in this for the bragging rights. After all, rival Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is worth a paltry $8.5 billion compared to Prokhorov's $9.5 billion -- but Abramovich owns a professional sports team, England's Chelsea Football Club.
NBA team, check. So what's next on the shopping list?
So Prokhorov has his NBA franchise, and good on 'im. But what concerns investors is where he'll make his next purchase. While this is his first venture into North American sports, Prokhorov's no stranger to investments of other sorts. In 2006, his business partner at Norilsk Nickel purchased a 35% interest in Plug Power
Prokhorov himself chairs Russia's Polyus Gold, so we know he also likes shiny metals. What might interest him here? Well, GoldCorp
Prokhorov might have even better luck prospecting in another field that interests him -- hydrogen fuel cells. Operating on high tech's bleeding edge, these firms are in perpetual need of capital. Consequently, they're priced to "cell" – Plug costs less than Prokhorov is spending on the Nets, and rival Ballard Power
Of course, if Prokhorov is a savvy investor, he'd be better advised to eschew the vanity of a controlling interest and pursue one of his other interests, nanotechnology. Big, profitable names like Intel
Where do you think this billionaire is most primed to make an investment? Let me know in the comments section below.
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