Miller family sells some of its remaining shares in the Utah Jazz

After hanging on to a 20% stake in the team following its October 2020 sale to Ryan Smith, the longtime owners of the team now part with more, in a deal a source says is tied to the new Arctos partnership.

(Photo courtesy Utah Jazz/Melissa Majchrzak) Gail Miller, owner and chair of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and the Utah Jazz speaks at a news conference where she announced agreements to sell a majority interest in the Utah Jazz and other sports to Ryan Smith at vivint.SmartHome Arena on October 28, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Miller family is selling off more of its share of the Utah Jazz.

After owning the team exclusively for 35 years, the Millers sold 80% of the Jazz to a group headed by Ryan Smith, co-founder of the Qualtrics software company, in October 2020.

On Wednesday morning, the Larry H. Miller Company announced it was “selling a portion of its minority ownership” in the team.

A source with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly said that the move was tied to the recent announcement that Smith Entertainment Group was bringing in private equity firm Arctos Sports Partners as a minority investor.

Forbes reported that Arctos and another partner bought roughly a 10% stake from the Miller family.

And it would seem to have come at a premium: the Jazz’s value has increased substantially since the Millers sold the team to Smith in 2020, according to Forbes.

A statement attributed to the Miller family and the Larry H. Miller Company said:

“As initially agreed, our family is selling a portion of our remaining ownership in the Utah Jazz, pending final NBA approval. We have treasured our stewardship of the franchise and remain strong supporters of the team and its place in our community. In addition to our business enterprises and philanthropic endeavors, we are proud to continue our ownership of the Salt Lake Bees, the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. Our family and the Larry H. Miller Company are excited about and committed to the advancement of sports and entertainment in this great state.”

As the statement alludes to, when the Millers made their original deal with Smith, Accel’s Ryan Sweeney, and Atlassian co-founder and Australian Mike Cannon-Brookes, there was a contractual agreement put in place for the new owners to eventually purchase all of the Millers’ remaining 20% stake in the team.

It is expected that Smith Entertainment Group will, at some point, buy the remaining shares from the Miller family, which has had zero input on management decisions since the original sale.

For now, though, Arctos joins Sweeney, Cannon-Brookes, the Millers, and former NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade among those to own minority shares in the Jazz.

Smith Entertainment Group, in announcing the deal with Arctos last week, said that its plan includes ultimately bringing a third major professional sports franchise to Utah, to join the Jazz and Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake.