Adam Silver takes stock of the possible arrival of sovereign wealth funds in the NBA

NBA – Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates have the green light to take stakes in franchises. Except that the NBA has posed a very tight framework.

With the exception of Newcastle in the Premier League, Saudi Arabia are yet to make any big catches in sports. Unlike Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, Saudi investors have positioned themselves in Formula 1, the Asian Winter Games and golf. They have also succeeded since this month of June is marked by the merger of the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf, the two professional golf leagues.

What about the NBA since sovereign wealth funds have the green light to take stakes in franchises?

“When Saudis invest in sports, it gets special attention,” recognizes Adam Silver at the microphone of the Dan Patrick Show. “I don’t want to complain about it, because we want to attract attention. On the other hand, and one could list, they invest in some of the biggest companies in America. Some of the most well-known brands benefit from their investments. I also think it’s a double-edged sword. »

Apply the « sportwashing » and NBA ?

“Double-edged” because we speak of “ soft power ” and of ” sportwashing“. In other words, these investments would only be propaganda tools to mask, in particular, accusations of human rights violations.

“The FIFA World Cup brought attention to Qatar. I think people find out about these countries, learn about what’s going on in the world in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise. So I think the media are doing their job.” estimated Silver. “But … specifically with respect to the NBA, which is a global sport, I think people are a little too dismissive these days about the benefits that come from community around sports. With a sport like basketball – and our Finals are broadcast almost all over the world and this sport is played all over the world – it’s an opportunity to bring people together”.

“We allow funds to invest in teams, but not to control them”

Concretely, and while the NBA has set foot in the United Arab Emirates with preseason matches, will there soon be an NBA franchise under the Saudi or Qatari banner? Impossible since Silver recalls the rules: like private investment funds, sovereign funds cannot hold more than 20% of a team.

“We allow funds to invest in teams, but not to control or influence them” Silver repeats. “So to own an NBA team, you have to have someone own a certain percentage of the team to control it. »

So far, no sovereign wealth fund has come forward to take a stake in a franchise. Perhaps precisely because it is limited to 20%, and they cannot, as in football, take full control of it.

2023-06-09 06:49:00
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