Ishbia gets NBA blessing to buy the Phoenix Suns

February 7, 2023

The NBA Board of Governors announced on Monday that it had approved the group, led by mortgage industry executive Mat Ishbia, to acquire the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.

The transaction, which values the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion, first became public in December. The NBA said in a news release that the deal is expected to close this week, and both teams will change hands for the first time in 19 years.

The seller is Robert Sarver, managing partner of Suns Legacy Holdings, which owns the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. The executive acquired both teams in 2004. Earlier this year, Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for one year following an NBA investigation regarding workplace conduct.

Mat Ishbia, chairman and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), and his brother Justin, are buying 50% ownership of the franchises, including Sarver’s interest. They are also acquiring a portion of the interest of minority partners, who were granted additional sale rights. Mat will serve as governor and Justin as alternate governor.

“The success and growth of the wholesale channel is my passion, as well as building great organizations, and I’m looking forward to bringing my passion and expertise to the Phoenix Suns and Mercury organization as well as the Phoenix community,” Mat Ishbia said in a statement in December.

The Phoenix Suns and Mercury acquisition follows the Ishbia brothers’ attempt to purchase the Denver Broncos last year. The team was ultimately sold for  $4.65 billion to the Walton-Penner family ownership group in August 2022.

Mat Ishbia was a walk-on player for the men’s basketball program under Head Coach Tom Izzo at Michigan State University. He was a backup point guard from 1998-2002 and won a national championship.

The executive joined UWM in 2003. The company went public in January 2022 after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) named Gores Holdings IV. The deal gave the combined company a valuation of $16.1 billion. But, amid a shrinking mortgage market, UWM had a market cap of about $7 billion as of Tuesday afternoon.

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