Mat Ishbia has acquired a majority stake in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns in deal that values the team at an NBA-record $4 billion.
Ishbia, the chairman and CEO of Michigan-based mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage, will become the team’s controlling owner, while his brother Justin will serve as an alternate governor, the team said. The NBA must approve the transaction.
Ishbia will control more than 50% of the team, buying out Robert Sarver’s roughly 35%, as well as stakes from unidentified limited partners. The team’s investors include private equity firm Dyal HomeCourt, which bought into the Suns in July 2021 at a $1.55 billion valuation. The team’s valuation has increased about 158% in that time.
“This is a dream come true for my entire family,” Ishbia said in a statement released by the team. “We
are so honored to be, with approval by the NBA, the next stewards of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.”
The Suns and WNBA’s Mercury were put on the market earlier this year after an independent investigation found Sarver used racist and sexist language, while also demeaning female employees.
Ishbia, who is worth $5.59 billion, according to Bloomberg, played basketball at Michigan State University, winning a national championship with the Spartans before coaching briefly on Tom Izzo’s staff. After leaving the school, he joined United Wholesale Mortgage, founded by his father, as the company’s 12th employee. Ishbia was named CEO in 2013, and last year the company went public in a SPAC deal that valued UWM at $16.1 billion.
Sportico valued the Suns at $3 billion, though teams typically sell for higher multiples in unexpected, forced sales like this one. The previous record price paid for an NBA team is $3.3 billion, when Joe Tsai purchased the rest of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center in 2019. Sarver acquired the Suns in 2004 in a deal that valued the club at $401 million.
(This story has been updated throughout with additional details of the deal.)