Europe 1 with AFP 00:11, December 21, 2022

American billionaire Mat Ishbia is about to complete the purchase of the two NBA franchises of the capital of Arizona, the Phoenix Suns and the Phoenix Mercury (the women's team), for a record amount of 4 billion dollars, according to several media on Tuesday.

While an offer of 3 billion dollars was on the table to buy the Phoenix Suns, it is ultimately Mat Ishbia who should afford the franchise for an amount of four billion euros.

The deal, which has yet to be cleared after a credit check and a vote by the club's owners, which are seen as formalities, was reported by ESPN and US paying website 'The Athletic'.

Magic Johnson also confirmed the takeover plan in a tweet about Ishbia, 42, a former basketball player who played like him under the colors of the Michigan State Spartans, the United States champion university team in 2000.


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Agreement in principle given

"Had a great chat with fellow Spartans Mat Ishbia congratulating him on his purchase of the Phoenix Suns," the basketball legend tweeted.

"He's going to do great things not only for the Suns, but for the whole league. The other 29 NBA teams better watch out, because Mat is a winner!"

added Magic Johnson.

According to this information, Ishbia, who made his fortune as the head of United Wholesale Mortgage, the American mortgage leader, bought the Suns from current owner Robert Sarver, banned from the NBA for a year and ordered to pay 10 million dollars after a resounding controversy triggered by his racist and misogynistic comments and his management based on bullying of his employees.

Sarver, who reportedly agreed to the terms of sale, said in September he would sell the franchise after NBA stars like LeBron James and Chris Paul said the penalties for him were too light.


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Increased valuation of NBA clubs

Major sponsors had also claimed they would not renew contracts with the Suns and Mercury as long as Sarver remained involved.

The $4 billion deal would confirm an increased valuation of NBA clubs, already seen in the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in 2014, the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion in 2017 and the Brooklyn Nets for $2.35 billion in 2019.

The sale would also give the female Mercurys a new owner as franchise star Brittney Griner sets to reunite with her team next season after being held in a Russian prison for 10 months before a prisoner swap earlier this month -this.