Longtime Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver reached an agreement to sell the majority stake of ownership to billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia, the 61-year-old announced Tuesday.
Ishbia is paying $4 billion for more than 50% ownership of the Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. Included in the deal is all of Sarver’s interest, as well as a portion of the interest of minority partners that were granted sale rights.
“Mat is the right leader to build on franchise legacies of winning and community support and shepherd the Suns and Mercury into the next era,” Sarver said. “As a former collegiate basketball player and national champion, Mat has exactly the right spirit, commitment and resources to pursue championships.”
The deal is pending league approval.
Ishbia has basketball connections dating back to his time in college. The Michigan native was a walk-on player on the Michigan State squad that won the 2000 national championship, appearing in 18 games that season. He remained at the school for another two seasons, playing a combined 48 games over three years.
He already publicly expressed a desire to purchase a North American sports franchise; after missing out on the NFL’s Denver Broncos this year, he said in November that he was considering a bid for the Washington Commanders, according to Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post.
His brother, Justin Ishbia, is also joining his bid as a significant investor and will become an alternate governor of the Suns, sources told The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Mat Ishbia has been president and CEO of UWM Holdings since 2013, when he succeeded his father, Jeff, who founded the company in 1986. Mat’s net worth is $5.59 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Sarver has been trying to sell the Suns since the NBA suspended him in September for workplace misconduct, including hostile behavior toward employees and racist speech.
He’s three months into the one-year suspension levied by the NBA after an outside law firm investigated his 18-year tenure at the helm of the Suns. Sarver was also fined $10 million. A week after his ban, Sarver announced he was seeking buyers for both the Suns and the Mercury as it was “no longer possible” for him to remain owner of both franchises.
Sarver bought the Suns and Mercury for a total of $401 million in 2004, then a record price in the NBA. The pending sale of about $4 billion would set another all-time mark in the league, surpassing the $3.3 billion Joe Tsai paid for the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.
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