Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver is stepping down as Western Alliance chief executive in the middle of the NBA investigation

Phoenix Suns majority owner Robert Sarver resigns as chief executive of Western Alliance Bancorporation in June, ending a two-decade period with the nearly $ 56 billion asset company.

The company’s latest announcement of Sarver’s impending departure comes amid the NBA’s investigation into Suns and Sarver, which the league launched in early November 2021, after ESPN published a story describing allegations of racism and misogyny in a sometimes hostile and toxic workplace. in Sarver’s 17-year period as majority owner. Sarver has denied allegations in ESPN’s history.

Sarver has held the title of CEO of Western Alliance Bancorporation since 2018 and has held a seat on the company’s board, which he will also be leaving in June, since 2002.

“It has been an honor to serve as the CEO of the Western Alliance Bancorporation,” Sarver, who also served as the company’s CEO from 2002 to 2018, said in a statement. “I would like to give 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, the time is right for me to begin a new chapter.I will always appreciate and be grateful for the experiences I have had and the relationships I have created during my time in the Western Alliance.I have the utmost confidence in the management and oversight of our very experienced and skilled Board of Directors Moving forward. “

Western Alliance Bancorporations CEO and President Kenneth Vecchione said in a statement, in part, “Robert’s vision and leadership made the Western Alliance’s remarkable success possible. Robert was honest, transparent and led the company with integrity throughout his time as a colleague and friend of many. U.S.”

In January, as the professional publication American Banker first reported, Vecchione told investors on an earnings call that independent directors of the company’s board had hired an independent external law firm, Munger, Toller & Olsen, to help conduct their own investigation “to evaluate Roberts. continued leadership role in the company, “Vecchione said during the call.

“The investigation is being conducted and monitored by the independent directors, and to be clear, it is not the result of any allegations related to the company, discovered 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 requested.”

On the January call, Ebrahim Poonawala, a Bank of America Securities analyst, asked Vecchione about the timeline for completing the investigation.

“This is being handled by the independent directors and their advisers,” Vecchione replied. “And I’m not really able to comment on the scope or duration of the investigation. Sorry.”

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

A spokesman 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 resign from his position in June.

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

The company’s announcement of Sarver came last week, a day after NBA board meetings ended in New York City, as league sources say Sarver attended.

When asked about the state of the NBA’s investigation after board meetings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters it’s still ongoing.

“I mean, these types of investigations take a lot of time,” Silver said. “You want to make sure that you gather all the facts, and you also want to make sure that you protect the rights of the accused. And then we will make the mistake of being very complete. So we are certainly closer to the end than the beginning. But it is hard to put an exact timeline on it right now. “

The NBA’s 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 64-18 mark, are scheduled to begin their postseason races this Sunday in Phoenix against either the New Orleans Pelicans or the LA Clippers.

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