Billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia is finalizing the purchase of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury for a record $4 billion, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.
The deal, to be announced Tuesday, will end the tumultuous tenure of owner Robert Sarver.
Ishbia is well known and respected within the league’s front office, including with commissioner Adam Silver, and has developed relationships with several NBA owners. He will have to undergo a background check and a vote by the Board of Governors, but this is expected to be a formality, the sources said.
BREAKING: Billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia is finalizing a purchase of the Phoenix Suns, sources tell ESPN. The deal, expected to be completed in the near future, would end the tumultuous tenure of owner Robert Sarver.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 20, 2022
Justin Ishbia, a founding partner of Shore Capital, will make a significant investment and serve as deputy governor, sources told ESPN. He is Mat’s brother.
The record sale of the Suns marks a new day in the escalation of NBA team valuations. Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets for an NBA record $2.35 billion in 2019. Before that sale, Tilman Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017, and Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. dollars in 2014.
The Los Angeles Lakers sold a minority stake for a higher valuation than the Suns’ $4 billion purchase, getting a $5 billion valuation.
Ishbia, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, a Michigan-based company, has been eyeing NBA and NFL teams for the past few years and finally reaches a deal to own the Suns. Ishbia played undrafted basketball at Michigan State and was part of the Spartans’ 2000 national championship team. He has remained close to Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo and previously made a $32 million donation to the program Basketball.
The sale will end Sarver’s tenure with the Suns, which dates back to 2004, when he led a group to buy the team for a then-record $401 million from Jerry Colangelo.
Sarver announced on September 21 that he would sell the Suns and the Mercury in mid-September, shortly after the NBA announced the results of a 10-month investigation into his conduct as the majority owner of the Suns.
The NBA commissioned that investigation, led by New York-based law firm Wachtell Lipton, in the wake of a November 2021 ESPN story detailing allegations of racism and misogyny during Sarver’s 17-year ownership.
As part of the league’s punishment, announced on September 13, Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for one year, though mounting outrage led him to announce that he would sell the Suns and Mercury shortly thereafter.
Sarver chose investment bank Moelis & Company to oversee the sale, and investment bank officials who have handled sales of professional sports franchises previously told ESPN they expect the final transaction price to set a record.
In September, Suns executive vice president and chief financial officer Jim Pitman informed team employees that a fully executed sale of the team could take six to nine months, team sources said at the time, a time frame that would be extended. until the 2022-23 season.
But in recent weeks, team employees have told ESPN that groups of potential bidders have been seen touring the team facility. Sarver owns about a third of the franchise, but has the authority as the team’s managing partner to sell the team in its entirety, sources told ESPN.
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes contributed to this report.
We wish to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this awesome content
Sources: Ishbia finalizing purchase of Suns, Mercury