NBA approves $4 billion sale of Phoenix Suns, Mercury to Mat Ishbia


PHOENIX (AP) — Mortgage executive and former Michigan State guard Mat Ishbia is the new majority owner of the Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, after the NBA’s board of governors approved his plan to purchase the controlling stake of those franchises from Robert Sarver.

The league announced the approval Monday night, saying the transaction will be finalized later this week. The vote was 29-0, with the Cleveland Cavaliers abstaining, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the final decision had not yet been announced publicly.

Ishbia agreed on Dec. 20 to the deal, one that put the total value of the Suns and Mercury at $4 billion. Ishbia and his brother Justin said then that they would be acquiring more than 50% of the franchises, which includes the entirety of the embattled Sarver’s share as well as some holdings from minority partners.

Mat Ishbia will be the Suns’ governor, Justin Ishbia will be alternate governor. They now can assume those roles just days before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, and with the Suns squarely in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.

There are tentative plans to introduce Mat Ishbia on Wednesday at a news conference in Phoenix.

No other sale in NBA history has been completed with a $4 billion valuation of the franchise involved. Joe Tsai bought the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center for $3.3 billion in 2019, and Tilman Fertitta purchased the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017.

The sale was finalized hours after Jason Rowley — who was the Suns president and CEO — decided to leave the team in anticipation of the leadership changes, a person familiar with the matter told AP. That person, speaking on condition of anonymity because Rowley’s resignation was not shared outside of the organization, said Rowley’s departure was “shared internally” within the Suns organization on Monday.

Mat Ishbia is the chairman, president and chief executive of United Wholesale Mortgage, which bills itself as the nation’s largest mortgage lender. He had to successfully complete a vetting process by the NBA before the transaction could be finalized, and then the league’s other owners cast their ballots for or against the move.

Forbes recently listed his net worth as just over $5 billion. Ishbia’s company went public in January 2021 and is a rival to Quicken Loans — the company that has Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert as its founder and chairman.

Ishbia played at Michigan State under coach Tom Izzo and was a member of the Spartans’ NCAA championship team in 2000.

Source link