Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver retires as executive chairman of Western Alliance amid NBA investigation

Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver will retire as executive chairman from Western Alliance Bancorporate in June, ending a two-decade term with the company worth nearly $56 billion.

The company’s recent announcement of Sarver’s impending departure comes amid an NBA investigation into the Suns and Sarver, the league kicking off in early November 2021 after ESPN posted a detailed story. details allegations of racism and misconduct in a sometimes hostile and toxic workplace during Sarver’s 17 years of tenure as a majority owner. Sarver denied the allegations in the ESPN story.

Sarver has held the title of executive chairman at Western Alliance Bancorporate since 2018 and has held a seat on the company’s board, which he will also vacate in June, since 2002.

Sarver, who also served as the company’s CEO from 2002 to 2018, said: “It is an honor to assume the role of executive chairman of Western Alliance Bancor. “I would like to express my sincere thanks to our employees, whose hard work and dedication have allowed us to achieve so much during our 20 years at the company. position of the company to continue to succeed and grow, I have started a new chapter.I will always cherish and be grateful for the experience I have had and the relationships that I have gained during my time with the company. work at Western Alliance. I have absolute confidence in the executive team and the oversight of our experienced and capable board of directors moving forward.”

In a statement, Western Alliance CEO and President Kenneth Vecchione said in part: “Robert’s vision and leadership have made the Western Alliance remarkable. Robert is an honest person, transparent and lead the company with integrity throughout his time as a colleague and friend to many of us.”

In January, as trade publication American Banker first reported, Vecchione told investors during an earnings call that independent directors on the company’s board had hired a law firm. external independents, Munger, Toller & Olsen, to help conduct their own investigation to “assess Robert’s continued leadership at the company,” Vecchione said on the call.

“The investigation is being directed and overseen by independent directors and should be clear, not the result of any allegations regarding the company discovered by the Board of Directors or the NBA.” , Vecchione continued calling. “In addition, the Western Alliance has and will continue to assist the NBA in an ongoing investigation as required.”

During the call in January, Ebrahim Poonawala, an analyst with Bank of America Securities, asked Vecchione about the timeline for concluding the investigation.

“This is being handled by the independent directors and their attorneys,” Vecchione replied. “And I’m really not in a position to comment on the scope or timing of the investigation. Sorry.”

Western Alliance Bancorporate did not mention the NBA’s investigation in its announcement, nor did it provide a reason for Sarver’s retirement.

A spokesperson for Western Alliance Bancorporate declined to comment beyond a statement about the reason or timing of the announcement.

The Suns declined to comment.

In the announcement, Western Alliance Bancorporate added that Steve Hilton, most recently director of the company’s board of directors, will also step down in June.

Hilton is a minority owner of Suns and, like Sarver, has been part of Western Alliance Corporation since 2002.

The company’s announcement regarding Sarver came last week, a day after the NBA governors meeting ended in New York City, where league sources say Sarver attended.

When asked about the status of the NBA’s investigation after the board meeting, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told reporters it was still ongoing.

“I mean, these kinds of investigations take a lot of time,” Silver said. “You want to make sure that you collect all the facts, and you also want to make sure that you protect the rights of the defendant. And so we want to err on the very side of it. So we do. certainly closer to the end than the beginning. But it’s hard to give an exact timeline for it right now.”

The NBA investigation has been led by New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton.

The top-seeded Suns, who finished the regular season with a franchise record and NBA best of 64-18, are expected to start their post-season game this Sunday in Phoenix with New Orleans Pelicans or LA Clippers. Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver retires as executive chairman of Western Alliance amid NBA investigation

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