Mat Ishbia finally settles on a record $4 billion to buy Phoenix Suns
On Tuesday, billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia and existing owner Robert Sarver announced that Ishbia will be purchasing a majority ownership in the Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury for a record price of $4 billion.
This agreement will put an end to Sarver’s troubled time in office.
Ishbia has built a strong reputation and a network of contacts with NBA owners, including commissioner Adam Silver. His appointment is subject to a background investigation and the board of governors’ approval, but this is seen as merely a formality.
Mat Ishbia’s brother Justin, a founding partner at Shore Capital and an alternate governor, will invest heavily.
“I am extremely excited to be the next Governor of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Mat Ishbia stated. There is a lot of life in the Valley, and I’ve enjoyed being a part of both teams’ fan bases.
In addition to acquiring all of Sarver’s interest, Ishbia will also acquire a share of the interests of the minority partners, giving them control of more than half of the teams.
It’s a new era in the ever-increasing valuation of NBA clubs with the record sale of the Suns. In 2019, Joe Tsai paid an NBA-record $2.35 billion to purchase the Brooklyn Nets. Both the Houston Rockets ($2.2 billion in 2017 to Tilman Fertitta) and the Los Angeles Clippers ($2 billion to Steve Ballmer in 2014) were previously owned by the NBA’s two highest-paid executives.
A minority stake in the Lakers was sold for $5 billion, which is higher than the $4 billion the Suns paid for their new stadium.
Ishbia, the president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage in Michigan, has been trying to acquire an NBA or NFL franchise for the better part of a decade. He was able to close a deal for ownership of the Suns in 2018. As a walk-on, Ishbia contributed to Michigan State’s 2000 national championship team. He donated $32 million to the basketball programme in the past and has a tight relationship with Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo.
From his high school playing days to the honour of playing for Coach Izzo and a national championship at Michigan State University, Ishbia remarked, “basketball is at the core of my existence.”
Sarver’s time with the Suns, which began in 2004 when he led a group to purchase the team from Jerry Colangelo for a then-record $401 million, will come to an end with the sale.