NBA Approves Pera as Grizzlies Owner

By Andy Meek

Thanks to a unanimous vote of approval from the NBA Board of Governors, Robert Pera is a few days away from being the new owner of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The NBA’s approval came Thursday in New York City. One remaining box to check before everything is finished is for Pera to formally complete the sale with current owner Michael Heisley, something that could take two to four more days, by one estimate.

NBA Commissioner David Stern praised Pera, a communications technology businessman who has split his time between Silicon Valley and Asia, in a statement released after Thursday’s vote.

“We are delighted that the NBA’s Board of Governors has approved Robert Pera’s purchase of the Grizzlies,” Stern said. “Robert will no doubt bring great energy and passion to the franchise. He has assembled an ownership group with very strong local ties, and we anticipate that their commitment to the Memphis area will greatly benefit both the team and the community."

Pera still is not commenting publicly until after the deal is finished with Heisley.

The ownership group he assembled has grown steadily in the months since his bid formally became public, with some dozen partners having been publicly identified up to now and others still to be named.

Partners who have joined Pera’s group include local businessman Billy Orgel, singer Justin Timberlake, former Memphis congressman Harold Ford Jr., AutoZone Inc. founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde, investment firm president Duncan Williams, financier Staley Cates and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his wife, Ashley, a Memphis native, among others.

A handful of other investors from both inside and outside Memphis still have not been named and could push the total number of investors in Pera’s group up to about 20, according to one source.