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Prokhorov approved as N.J. Nets owner

NEW YORK, May 11 (UPI) -- Mikhail Prokhorov was approved by the NBA's board of governors Tuesday to become the principal owner of the New Jersey Nets, league officials said.

Prokhorov, reportedly the richest man in Russia as head of the Onexim Group, becomes the first non-North American to own an NBA franchise.

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"We are pleased that the NBA's board of governors approved Mikhail Prokhorov's purchase of majority ownership of the Nets, welcoming into the NBA ownership ranks the league's first majority investor from outside of North America," said NBA commissioner David Stern.

Prokhorov is set to take control of the Nets -- the NBA's worst team with a 12-70 record this season -- from former majority Bruce Ratner. He and Ratner reached an agreement in 2009 in which Prokhorov would spearhead the effort to build a new basketball arena in Brooklyn, New York, as part of the massive Atlantic Yards redevelopment effort.

Published reports indicate Prokhorov is to invest $200 million into the team in exchange for an 80 percent stake in the Nets and 45 percent piece of the new arena.

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