Middle East Rumors
About a month after the Pistons’ exclusive 30-day negotiating window with Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch passed, the Abu Dhabi-based National reported that Middle East investment groups are in discussions to buy the Pistons. The NBA today released a statement downplaying that report. It reads, in part: “There has been interest in league franchises from various investors in Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but (the NBA refutes) a report that specific negotiations are ongoing for a potential sale of the Pistons to a group from the Middle East.”
Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire, recently bought the New Jersey Nets franchise, marking the first foreign ownership of an NBA team. This purchase “ignited and catalysed” foreign interest in ownership of the teams, said Mr Stern. “We are either in direct or indirect discussions with at least three buyers in the Middle East over their interest in acquiring NBA franchises,” he said. “We are mindful that of the 20 teams in [English Premier League football], 10 are owned by investors outside the UK.”
Investment groups in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar are in separate discussions to buy the Detroit Pistons basketball team, which has been valued at close to US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion). Negotiations are “ongoing” for a potential Middle East buyout of the franchise, said David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA). “The interest and discussions have taken place in reference to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar. There is more than one discussion,” Mr Stern said. “That is a team that has been, and is having negotiations with different potential investors,” he added, declining to name the parties involved.