September 30, 2023

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is shopping for a roughly 5% stake within the mum or dad firm of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, NHL’s Washington Capitals and WNBA’s Washington Mystics as a part of a $4.05 billion deal, an individual with data of the sale mentioned Thursday.

The particular person spoke to The Related Press on situation of anonymity as a result of the settlement between the Qatar Funding Authority and Monumental Sports activities & Leisure had not been introduced.

It’s believed to be the primary time the federal government of Qatar is investing in U.S. skilled sports activities. Sportico first reported the transaction, saying it’s the first time any sovereign wealth fund has purchased into possession of an American staff.

It isn’t Qatar’s first massive foray into main sports activities. The Center Japanese nation final yr hosted soccer’s World Cup for the primary time, serving to FIFA attain a report income stage due to booming ticket and hospitality gross sales.

Qatar Sports activities Investments has owned majority management of French soccer membership Paris Saint-Germain since 2011. The identical group agreed in October to purchase a 22% stake in Portuguese membership Braga.

Getting right into a high U.S. market, at the same time as a minority accomplice, is additional growth of Qatari attain into the sports activities world.

NBA spokesperson Mike Bass mentioned the league’s Board of Governors determined in November to permit “passive, non-controlling, minority investments in NBA groups by institutional traders, together with college endowments, international and home pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, topic to a set of coverage pointers adopted at the moment.” All investments becoming that invoice require league evaluate and NBA Board approval.

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“The NBA Board is presently reviewing a possible funding by QIA in Monumental Sports activities & Leisure, the mum or dad firm of the Washington Wizards, amongst different sports activities properties,” Bass mentioned. “In accordance with the coverage, if permitted, QIA would have a passive, minority funding within the staff, with no involvement in its operations or decision-making.”

NHL Deputy Commissioner Invoice Daly advised the AP the league had already permitted the funding.

An skilled in such transactions mentioned sports activities are a part of Qatar’s nation-branding and public diplomacy technique and that this transfer aligns with that technique.

“A part of that technique consists of buying, sponsoring or shopping for fairness in worldwide sports activities organizations in Western markets, particularly in central cities,” mentioned Dr. Yoav Dubinsky, teacher of sports activities enterprise within the Lundquist Faculty of Enterprise on the College of Oregon. “From a political standpoint, it means additional legitimizing Qatar as a enterprise accomplice within the West, together with within the coronary heart of American politics.”

Dubinsky added in an e mail to the AP that the dimensions of the stake would possible restrict the influence Qatar can have on the groups, in contrast to the management of Paris Saint-Germain. That might match with the NBA’s definition of a passive, minority funding.

Authorities and QIA officers in Qatar, which hosts the ahead headquarters of the U.S. army’s Central Command, declined to remark when reached by the AP. It has used its pure gasoline wealth to boost its profile internationally whereas additionally dealing with a yearslong boycott by regional nations over a political dispute.

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Qatar’s potential buy additionally renews questions that adopted it in the course of the FIFA World Cup, which embrace considerations over its human rights report in relation to LGBTQ+ rights and its therapy of laborers within the nation.

Neighboring Saudi Arabia has additionally moved into U.S. sports activities. Its sovereign wealth fund, which funded the upstart LIV Golf collection, has agreed to a enterprise partnership with the PGA Tour, sparking related considerations.

Ted Leonsis, who has owned the Capitals since 1999 and been majority proprietor of the Wizards since 2010, is the founder, managing accomplice and CEO of Monumental. The corporate lists 20 different companions on its web site, together with Laurene Powell Jobs and Washington Nationals proprietor Mark Lerner.

Monumental additionally owns the Capital Metropolis Go-Go of the G League and Capital One Area in Washington and not too long ago took over the media outlet previously generally known as NBC Sports activities Washington, now Monumental Sports activities Community.


AP Basketball Author Tim Reynolds and AP Gulf and Iran information director Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.


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