Mat Ishbia, the chief executive of United Wholesale Mortgage, is nearing an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury in a deal that values the teams at $4 billion, according to a person who was familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
Robert Sarver, the majority investigation owner of the team, announced that he would sell the team in September, after an NBA found that he had mistreated employees over many years, including by using racist language.
The pending deal, which was first reported by ESPN, will not be finalized until it is approved by the NBA’s board of governors.
The sale price of $4 billion is about 10 times what Sarver paid for the teams in 2004 and would be a league record. The previous high price was Joe Tsai’s full acquisition of the Nets in 2019, valuing the franchise at $2.35 billion. It is the second-most expensive acquisition of an American sports franchise in history, behind only the Denver Broncos, which were sold for $4.65 billion this year.
Spokespeople for the Suns, Mercury and United Wholesale Mortgage did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In September, the NBA suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million — the maximum allowed — after an investigation found that he had used racial slurs and treated female employees inequitably over many years. The punishment generated significant backlash, with players and fans saying that it was not harsh enough. Amid that pressure, Sarver said he would sell the team, citing an “unforgiving climate.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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