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Wilpons explore selling minority chunk of Mets

New York MetsFred and Jeff Wilpon are looking at selling a minority share of the New York Mets due to financial complications due to their family firm’s investments with Bernie Madoff, as they face a potential clawback lawsuit from the court-appointed bankruptcy trustee.

The following statement comes from Fred Wilpon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Mets, and Jeff Wilpon, Chief Operating Officer:

As Sterling Equities announced in December, we are engaged in discussions to settle a lawsuit brought against us and other Sterling partners and members of our families by the Trustee in the Madoff bankruptcy. We are not permitted to comment on these confidential negotiations while they are ongoing.

However, to address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win, we are looking at a number of potential options including the addition of one or more strategic partners. To explore this, we have retained Steve Greenberg, a Managing Director at Allen & Company, as our advisor.

Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and continue to control and manage the team’s operations. The Mets have been a major part of our families for more than 30 years and that is not going to change.

As we have said before, we are totally committed to having the Mets again become a World Series winner. Our fans and all New Yorkers deserve nothing less.

Some background. The Wilpons were investors in funds managed by Bernie Madoff, but the funds weren’t legit: they were part of a huge Ponzi scheme that ended up causing thousands of clients to lose their investments. So-called “clawbacks” are filed by a bankruptcy trustee against those who actually received more proceeds from the Ponzi scheme than they invested, on the theory that they were sharing in the proceeds of the fraud. It’s important to note that the Wilpons are not accused of any actual wrong-doing in the matter.

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