As UWM attempts to build an empire, brokers and rivals weigh in on Mat Ishbia’s $16B plan

A year ago, long before anyone talked about a coronavirus, Rocket Companies‘ stock performance, or the curious acronym S-P-A-C, Mat Ishbia had set his plan in motion.

Ishbia’s company, United Wholesale Mortgage, had by that point climbed the ranks to become the second-biggest mortgage originator in the country. UWM issued nearly 350,000 mortgages worth $108 billion in 2019, about three times more than the year prior. He hired thousands of workers at UWM’s 60-acre headquarters outside Detroit, championed the resurrection of the independent mortgage broker, rolled out a suite of new technologies, had a few dust-ups with hometown rival Quicken Loans (now Rocket), and generally ate the lunch of legacy banks and Wall Street-backed competitors alike.

But Ishbia was still biding his time. To execute upon his vision, he needed capital. Lots of it. Ishbia needed to go public.

And so, a day after Rocket announced a rebranding of its wholesale/partner channel, Ishbia dropped his bombshell: the 40-year-old executive would merge his company with an Alec Gores-created SPAC, giving him a 94% stake in a new residential mortgage company valued at $16.1 billion. As part of the merger, the new company would receive nearly $1 billion in fresh capital to roll out new technology, hire even more workers, and scale up.

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