Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver retires as executive chairman of the Western Alliance amid NBA investigation
Majority owner of the Phoenix Suns, Robert Sarver, will retire as executive chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation in June, ending a two-decade tenure with the nearly $ 56 billion asset company.
The company’s recent announcement of Sarver’s imminent departure comes amid the NBA’s investigation into the Suns and Sarver, which the league launched in early November 2021 after ESPN released a story detailing allegations of racism and misogyny in a sometimes hostile and toxic workplace during Sarver’s 17 years. position as majority owner. Sarver has denied the allegations in ESPN’s history.
Sarver has held the title of executive chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation since 2018 and has held a position on the company’s board of directors, which he will also leave in June, from 2002.
“It has been an honor to serve as executive chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation,” said Sarver, who was also CEO of the company from 2002 to 2018. “I want to offer my sincere appreciation to our employees, whose hard work and dedication have enabled us to achieve so much during my 20 years in the company. With the company well positioned for continued success and growth, it is the right time for me to start a new chapter. I will love and always be grateful for the experiences I have I have had and the relationships I have built during my time with the Western Alliance. I have the utmost confidence in the executive team and in the oversight of our highly experienced and capable board going forward. “
Western Alliance Bancorporation CEO and President Kenneth Vecchione said in a statement, in part, “Robert’s vision and leadership made the remarkable success of the Western Alliance possible. Robert was honest, transparent and led the company with integrity throughout his time as a colleague and as a friend to many of us. “
In January, as industry publication American Banker first reported, Vecchione told investors in an earnings call that the company’s independent board directors had hired an independent outside law firm, Munger, Toller & Olsen, to help conduct their own investigations “to evaluate the continued leadership role in the company,” Vecchione said on the call.
“The investigation is directed and supervised by the independent directors and, to be clear, it is not the result of any allegation relating to the company uncovered by the Board or the NBA,” Vecchione continued on the call. “In addition, Western Alliance has and will continue to assist the NBA in an ongoing investigation as required.”
In the January phone call, Ebrahim Poonawala, an analyst at Bank of America Securities, asked Vecchione the timing for concluding the investigation.
“This is managed by the independent directors and their advisors,” replied Vecchione. “And I’m not really in a position to comment on the scope or duration of the investigation. I’m sorry.”
Western Alliance Bancorporation did not address the NBA investigation in its announcement, nor did it provide a reason for Sarver’s retirement.
A spokesperson for the Western Alliance Bancorporation declined to comment beyond the statement on the reasons or timing of the announcement.
The Suns declined to comment.
In the announcement, Western Alliance Bancorporation added that Steve Hilton, most recently director of its board of directors, would also step down from his position in June.
Hilton is a minority owner of the Suns and, like Sarver, has been part of the Western Alliance Bancorporation since 2002.
The company’s announcement regarding Sarver came last week, a day after the conclusion of the NBA board of directors meetings in New York City, which league sources say Sarver attended.
Asked about the status of the NBA’s investigation following the board meetings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that it is still ongoing.
“I mean, these kinds of investigations take a long time,” Silver said. “You want to make sure you gather all the facts and you also want to make sure you protect the rights of the accused. And so we want to sin on the side of being very thorough. So, we’re definitely closer to the end than we started. But it’s hard to give a line. precise time in this moment “.
The NBA investigation was conducted by the New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton.
Seeded Suns, who finished the regular season with a franchise record and an NBA score of 64-18, is expected to start his post-season run this Sunday in Phoenix against the New Orleans Pelicans or the LA Clippers.