Billionaire Mat Ishbia has held exploratory conversations about bringing new investors into the Phoenix Suns and Mercury basketball teams, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
(Bloomberg) — Billionaire Mat Ishbia has held exploratory conversations about bringing new investors into the Phoenix Suns and Mercury basketball teams, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Ishbia, who has the ability to buy shares from existing minority owners in the two teams, has fielded interest from US and international investors seeking to purchase shares if or when he adds to his holdings, said one of the people, all of whom asked not to be identified discussing confidential talks.
Ishbia, chief executive officer of mortgage giant UWM Holdings Corp., in February completed the $2.28 billion purchase of a 57% controlling stake in the National Basketball Association’s Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury, a deal that valued the teams at $4 billion. The teams are likely to be valued at a premium to that figure in any future transaction, one of the people said. Ishbia pledged more than half the outstanding shares of UWM, parent of United Wholesale Mortgage, to secure loans before completing the acquisition.
A representative for Ishbia’s family office, which owns his basketball interests, declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury also declined to comment.
“This is the culmination of a lifelong dream,” Ishbia, who was a walk-on basketball player at Michigan State University under famed coach Tom Izzo, said in a statement in February.
Earlier this month, the two teams committed to invest more than $100 million to develop a new practice facility for the Mercury and a combined headquarters in Phoenix’s warehouse district downtown. “A basketball franchise is so much more than a normal business, it is a catalyst for change,” he said in a statement.
NBA valuations have been on a tear, in part due to heightened activity by institutional investors such as Arctos Sports Partners, which has built a stake in the Golden State Warriors. In August, Michael Jordan sold a majority interest in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets to a group led by Gabe Plotkin and Rick Schnall for $3 billion.
Read More: Golden State Warriors Stake Sale Considered at $7 Billion Value
(Updates with the Suns and Mercury declining to comment in fourth paragraph.)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.