Ownership of the Phoenix Suns basketball team will soon be switching hands. Billionaire mortgage executive Mat Ishbia is finalizing a purchase of the Phoenix Suns franchise in the near future, according to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski.
Ishbia is chairman and CEO of Michigan-based mortgage lender United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM). He purchasing the franchise, which includes the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury WNBA team, from Robert Sarver.
The Suns franchise was put up for sale by Sarver earlier this year after a tumultuous year for the current owner. Sarver was fined $10 million and suspended for one year following the NBA’s investigation into the owner’s workplace conduct — which stemmed from allegations of a culture of intolerance, harassment, discrimination.
The total purchase price has not been made public yet, but is likely to be one of the largest NBA team purchase prices in recent history. Per Wojnarowski, the Suns deal is expected to close in the “near future,” and he said was priced in the neighborhood of $4 billion.
Ishbia joined UWM in 2003 after graduating from Michigan State University, where he was a walk-on player for the men’s basketball program under Head Coach Tom Izzo. The UWM CEO was backup point guard from 1998-2002 and won a national championship.
This isn’t Ishbia’s first attempt at purchasing a professional sports team, nor is it UWM’s first ties to college or professional sports. The UWM executive has pursued the purchase of a number of NBA and NFL teams in recent years, although none of his prior attempts were successful.
In June 2022, Mat Ishbia and his brother, Justin Ishbia, who owns 22% of UWM, were among four finalists in a bid to purchase the Denver Broncos, which had been up for grabs since February 2022. Other finalists included Josh Harris, owner of NBA Philadelphia 76ers and NHL New Jersey Devils; Rob Walton, son of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart; and Jose Feliciano, co-owner of Clearlake Capital.
The Broncos were ultimately sold to the Walton-Penner family ownership group for $4.65 billion in August 2022.
Justin, a founding partner in Shore Capital, will make a significant investment and serve as alternate governor, Wojnorawski reported.
In 2021, UWM was announced as the jersey sponsor for the Detroit Pistons basketball team. The financial terms of that deal were not disclosed to the public.
UWM is also a frequent sponsor of Ishbia’s alma mater. In 2021, Ishbia made a $32 million donation to Michigan State for a new football building. Later that year, the CEO announced that UWM would sponsor all men’s basketball and football players with $500 dollar monthly stipends in return for the players advertising UWM on their social media pages.
The majority of Ishbia’s wealth is tied up in UWM, which as of Tuesday afternoon had a market cap of about $6.44 billion.