Qatar Sovereign Fund to Acquire Stake in NBA's Wizards, NHL's Capitals
As the first sovereign wealth fund to invest in a sports team established in the United States, the Qatar Investment Authority intends to buy a small portion of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the NBA's Washington Wizards and NHL's Washington Capitals.
In a $4.5 billion agreement, Sports Business media outlet Sportico, QIA will buy a 5% investment in MSE, which also owns the WNBA team Washington Mystics, Capital One Arena, and NBC Sports Washington.
As part of the agreement, NBC Sports Washington will change its name to Monumental Sports Network later this fall.
In the transaction, Ted Leonsis, the managing partner of MSE, will maintain complete operational control; thus, QIA will not hold a board seat or any voting rights within the company.
In a statement sent to The Hill, NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said that the league’s board of governors decided in November 2022 to approve private equity investments in the league “by institutional investors, including university endowments, foreign and domestic pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds,” saying that all investments will require league review.
“The NBA Board is currently reviewing a potential investment by QIA in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Washington Wizards, among other sports properties,” Bass told The Hill. “In accordance with the policy, if approved, QIA would have a passive, minority investment in the team, with no involvement in its operations or decision-making.”
The MSE/QIA transaction has already received NHL approval, according to Sportico.
The decision was made at a time when sovereign money has had a significant impact on sports in recent years. Even though Qatar hosted the FIFA World Cup the previous year, the nation received negative press for its human rights record.