The Wilpon family, via Sterling Partners, is in negotiations to sell an 80 percent share of the New York Mets to hedge-fund investor Steve Cohen, who already owns a minority share in the National League franchise, reports Bloomberg News.
The negotiations, which were confirmed by the Mets, values the franchise at $2.6 billion. From Bloomberg:
Fred Wilpon, the team’s principal owner, will remain in his current role for at least five years, at which time Cohen would control the franchise, said the person. Jeff Wilpon, his son, will remain as the team’s chief operating officer for the five-year period, the person said.
Cohen, whose net worth is $9.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, will remain as chief executive officer of Point72 Asset Management, the person said. Cohen didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fred Wilpon is making the move as part of estate and philanthropic planning, the person said. The Wilpons will retain a stake in the franchise they assumed control of in 2002 at a valuation of $391 million.
The Mets have a passionate fan base, to be sure, but the Wilpons have not always pleased them. The team’s payroll in 2019 was a healthy $160 million, ranking 10th in MLB but not large enough to placate boosters who demand a winning team. The installation of billionaire Cohen as eventual team owner should placate some of these anxieties — but with a five-year runway before assuming control of the team and some roster spots up in the air (Zach Wheeler signed a big deal with the Philadelphia Phillies today), change may not come soon enough for the impatient.
The Wilpons also own the Syracuse Mets (Class AAA; International League), the St. Lucie Mets (High A; Florida State League) and Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season A; NY-Penn League). Wilpon and Saul B. Katz have also worked on redevelopment plans near Citi Field and been part of the New York Islanders Belmont Park arena project.