Suspended Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver said he has retained global investment bank Moelis and Co. to oversee the sale of the NBA franchise as well as the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Sarver, in a phone call, declined to discuss a potential price in the sale.
Moelis will assist Sarver in what will be one of the most anticipated—and most expensive—NBA team sales in recent memory. Sarver agreed to sell the team after an independent investigation found that he’d used racist and sexist language, and demeaned female employees.
The sale will be run by Moelis co-founder and co-president Navid Mahmoodzadegan. The company recently advised Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital on their $3.16 billion acquisition of Chelsea. Moelis also recently assisted Diamond Sports Group, the country’s largest family of regional sports networks (RSNs), with a capital raise. Mahmoodzadegan declined to comment.
The Suns are worth $1.92 billion, according to Sportico’s numbers. That ranks 18th in the NBA and 64th among U.S. sports franchises. The team is expected to sell for more than $2 billion.
The NBA initially suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million, the highest total available to commissioner Adam Silver, after the report was completed. The outcry was swift across the NBA, with prominent players saying the punishment was too lenient. Even the Suns’ biggest commercial partner, and its largest shareholder outside of Sarver, said he should sell the team. Sarver relented a week later, saying he would sell both the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
Sarver bought the team in a $401 million deal back in 2004. His stake was 30% at the time of purchase, so he will likely clear at least $500 million on the Suns sale.
(This story has been updated with details throughout and has been corrected to reflect the sale price for Chelsea.)