According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Phoenix Suns will soon have a new owner. Billionaire Mat Ishbia will purchase the Suns and Mercury for a blow-them-all-away record $4 billion(ish?) dollars. That’s almost twice what Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers a few years ago, and a lot more than Joe Tsai paid for the Brooklyn Nets ($2.35B).
Sources: Billionaire Mat Ishbia is purchasing the Phoenix Suns and Mercury for $4 billion. Robert Sarver has agreed in principle to sell. Ishbia was a national champion on Michigan State‘s basketball team in 2000.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 20, 2022
The sale is agreed in principle, and I’m sure will take months to complete.
Mat Ishbia will be bringing in his brother, Justin, as a significant investor and alternate governor for the Suns, sources said. https://t.co/MQOl6t1Xu5— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 20, 2022
Robert Sarver is really really really on his way out, folks.
Here’s the joint statement from Sarver and Ishbia. Apparently, Ishbia is buying 50% of the team, including all of Sarver’s holdings, to make up the total team valuation at $4 billion.
Ishbia will be the Governor of the team, and his brother will be the Alternate Governor (whatever that means).
From today’s Woj pod with Adrian Wojnarowski, Ishbia has been around the Phoenix area the last two months as he negotiated for the purchase. He’s been wanting into the league for years now and already has a relationship with Commissioner Adam Silver, so getting approval from the other team owners should not be difficult. He apparently will be among the top 10 richest owners of the 30.
New ownership has to be officially approved by the Board of Governors. No timetable has been set for that.
And I’m sure with new ownership comes new executives on the business side, at the least. You know, the side that’s still in place despite being implicated along with Sarver in the racism and misogyny investigation. They’re all still in place, folks. And that’s where new owners likely will focus their early attention.
I wouldn’t expect much disruption on the basketball side, led by James Jones, because of how successful they’ve been.
So who is this billionaire?
According to Forbes, Mat Ishbia has a net worth of about $5.1 billion as the chairman and CEO of Michigan-based mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage, now UWM Holdings, founded by his father Jeff in 1986. He owns a 71% stake in the company, which went public through a merger with a blank check company in 2021. His brother Justin owns 22% of the company, also making him a billionaire.
At 42, Mat Ishbia would be NBA's youngest principal owner, helping to usher in new generation of leadership for an allegedly progressive league still maligned by players as old and white in C-suite.— Matt Sullivan (@sullduggery) December 20, 2022
The former MSU guard / mega-donor cashed out on $16-billion SPAC deal last year. https://t.co/cBasqGi3KE
Mat was a walk-on basketball player at Michigan State. He was part of the national championship team in 2000, and then worked under Tom Izzo for a year before settling into his billionaire life. Ishibia joined his father’s firm in 2003 after graduating from Michigan State and became CEO in 2013.
He recently donated $32 million to MSU to upgrade facilities and get things named after former Tom Izzo, and has donated more money to the program as well.
There’s a profile on HBO Max about him if you want to get to know your favorite team’s new owner, as well.
Ishbia was profiled on the HBO sports show (Bryant Gumbel one) as an insanely generous Michigan State benefactor who runs his mortgage business like a sports team. Said on that show his next goal was to own a franchise. https://t.co/eO95sF069w— brittrobson (@brittrobson) December 20, 2022
On HBO Real Sports, billionaire donor and former MSU hoops player Mat Ishbia says he put in $14 million for Mel Tucker's contract.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) November 23, 2022
"10 years, $95 million sounds like a lot right now. In eight years, that'll be middle of the road."
Kentucky's coach now makes $9m. He ain't wrong.
More to come as it unfolds.