Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club, LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement today. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
"We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder," Bennett said. "George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation's top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
"I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning," Bennett added.
"I am pleased to join the Thunder ownership group," Kaiser said. "I appreciate what Tom, Clay and the other owners have done to make Oklahoma City a big-league city and look forward to joining the continuing effort to gain positive recognition for our state."
"I am very pleased to have been a part of the group that brought the Thunder to Oklahoma City, " Ward said. "The team has generated tremendous excitement in our city and state. This transaction allows me to have greater focus on the things that I know and care about the most, which include launching new Oklahoma-based energy companies and supporting charitable organizations that demonstrate compassion to those in need."
Kaiser is president, CEO and primary owner of GBK Corporation, parent of Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, which he has managed for 40 years. He is chairman of the board and majority shareholder of BOK Financial Corporation and a major shareholder in several energy, oil and gas, mining and technology companies.
Kaiser has been engaged in numerous civic activities, including working with others to establish both the Tulsa Community Foundation and Tulsa Educare. He founded the George Kaiser Family Foundation, dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through investments in early childhood education, community health, social services and civic enhancements.
In addition, through a transaction approved by the NBA Board of Governors on Friday, Clayton I. Bennett, Chairman and CEO of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chairman of Dorchester Capital; Aubrey K. McClendon, Chairman and CEO of American Energy Partners; William M. Cameron, Chairman and CEO of American Fidelity Assurance Company; and Jay Scaramucci, President of Balon Corporation, have each purchased ownership interests from G. Jeffrey Records, Jr., CEO of MidFirst Bank. Records remains a significant owner of the team and MidFirst remains a major sponsor.
The ownership interests of Everett R. Dobson, Managing Partner of Dobson Partnerships; and Robert E. Howard II, Chairman of Howard Investments, did not change.