Robert Sarver, majority owner of Phoenix Suns, will retire as CEO from Western Alliance Bancorporation in June, ending a two-decade term with the company worth about $56 billion in assets.
The company’s recent announcement of Sarver’s imminent departure comes amid the NBA’s investigation into the Suns and Sarver, which launched the league in early November 2021 after ESPN published a story detailing allegations of racism and misogyny in a hostile and sometimes toxic workplace during Sarver’s 17-year tenure. . Possession as majority owner. Sarver denied the allegations in the ESPN story.
Sarver has been CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation since 2018 and has held a seat on the company’s board of directors, which he will also relinquish in June, since 2002.
“It has been an honor to be CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation,” Sarver, who also served as the company’s CEO from 2002 to 2018, said in a statement. “I want to offer my sincere appreciation to our employees, whose hard work and dedication have allowed us to achieve so much during my twenty years in the company. As the company is well positioned for continued success and growth, it is time for me to start a new chapter. I will always cherish and be grateful for the experiences I have gained.” And the relationships I’ve had during my time at Western Alliance. I have absolute confidence in the executive team and oversight of our highly experienced and capable Board of Directors moved forward.”
Western Alliance Bancorporation CEO and President Kenneth Viccione said in a statement, in part that “Robert’s vision and leadership made the remarkable success of Western Alliance possible. Robert has been honest, transparent and has led the company with integrity throughout his time as a colleague and as a friend to many of us.”
In January, as the American Banker trade publication first reported, Vecchione told investors on an earnings call that independent directors on the company’s board had hired an independent outside law firm, Munger, Toller & Olsen, to help conduct their own investigations “of an assessment of Robert and Vecchione said in the call. The continuing leadership role in the company.
“The investigation is directed and supervised by the independent directors and, to be clear, is not the result of any allegations relating to the company discovered by the Board of Directors or the NBA,” Viccione continued on the call. “In addition, the Western Alliance has and will continue to assist the NBA in its ongoing investigation as required.”
In the January call, Ibrahim Bunawala, an analyst at Bank of America Securities, asked Vikuni about the timetable for ending the investigation.
“This is handled by the independent directors and their advisor,” Viccione replied. “And I’m really not in a position to comment on the scope or duration of the investigation. Sorry.”
Western Alliance Bancorporation did not address the NBA investigation in its announcement, nor did it provide a reason for Sarver to retire.
A spokesperson for 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, who was recently a director of its board, will also step down 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 Governors meetings in New York City, which league sources say Sarver attended.
When asked about the status of the NBA’s investigation after board meetings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters it was still going.
“I mean, these kinds of investigations take a lot of time,” Silver said. “You want to make sure you collect all the facts, and you also want to make sure that the rights of the accused are protected. And so we want to err on the side of being too perfect. So, we’re definitely closer to the end than the beginning. But it’s hard to put an exact timeline on it now.”
The NBA investigation was led by New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton.
The top seed Suns, who finished the regular season with a franchise record and a 64-18 mark in the NBA, are set to start their career after season in Phoenix against the New Orleans Pelicans or the Los Angeles Clippers.