After a false start and a second round of bidding that included Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez, Steve Cohen finally landed the New York Mets in a deal valued at approximately $2.45 billion–the most ever paid for a North American sports franchise.
“I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a press statement.
The deal between Sterling Partners and Cohen was confirmed by the Mets last night. It is subject to the approval of the Major League Baseball club owners, a process that will begin with a review from an owners subcommittee. If that goes well, MLB owners could approve the dead in a November vote. While there were whispers that MLB didn’t necessarily consider Cohen to be their top choice, he’s still expected to be approved. From the New York Post:
The hedge fund billionaire is a polarizing figure and there are no certainties that he would garner the necessary votes. Cohen’s former hedge fund, SAC Capital, paid a $1.8 billion fine in 2013 to settle insider trading charges. His current company is being sued for gender discrimination.
However, money often wins out and Cohen is worth roughly $14 billion and the record price paid — particularly amid a pandemic — is going to be enticing to other owners who know the value of one franchise impacts all the others.
The Mets have had multiple conversations with fellow owners giving them confidence Cohen will gain approval, a source close to the situation said. However, there are team officials who caution that this is not a layup.
From the viewpoint of Sterling Partners–led by Fred and Jeff Wilpon, and Saul Katz, along with minority investors–the deal has got to be viewed as a success. Early it was assumed a purchase price would end up below $2 billion, but the including of other bidders (the aforementioned A-Rod and J-Lo, as well as Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment) drove up that price. The Wilpons will retain a 5 percent stake in the Mets as well as their share of the Mets television network, SNY, and their minor-league teams in Syracuse and Brooklyn. The Wilpons are also investors in a new Belmont Park arena for the New York Islanders (NHL).
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