NBA approves Utah Jazz sale to group led by Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith

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(Reuters) - The sale of the Utah Jazz to an ownership group led by Qualtrics founder and executive chairman Ryan Smith was unanimously approved by the NBA Board of Governors, the league said on Friday.

The Jazz were owned by the Miller family for 35 years before Gail Miller, the owner and chair of the Larry H Miller Group, said in October that they were selling a majority interest to Smith and his wife Ashley.

The deal to buy the Jazz, reported by ESPN to be worth $1.66 billion, also includes the Vivint Arena, its G League affiliate Salt Lake City Stars team and management operations of the Triple-A baseball affiliate Salt Lake Bees.

The Millers have retained a minority interest in the team.

"Ryan Smith is a forward-thinking, community-minded entrepreneur and business leader who will be a fantastic addition to our league," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

"We are also extraordinarily appreciative of Gail Miller, Greg Miller and the Miller family for 35 years of outstanding leadership and service and, on behalf of the entire NBA, thank them for always running a first-class organization in every way."

Smith has been linked with the Utah franchise in recent years when he co-founded '5 For The Fight' -- a campaign to eradicate cancer that has raised more than $26 million -- and had its logo featured on the Jazz jersey.

The 42-year-old said this deal was special to him as he grew up as a Jazz fan.

"I'm incredibly grateful to Gail Miller and her family for placing their trust in Ashley and me to carry forward their amazing legacy," Smith said.

"The Jazz have a phenomenal leadership team who will continue to guide the organization. We are all committed to building, and to building in Utah."

The Jazz have made the playoffs in the last four years but did not get past the semi-finals stage in the Western Conference.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Louise Heavens and Pritha Sarkar)