Investor Steve Cohen’s $2.4 billion bid to purchase the New York Mets has reportedly been approved by Major League Baseball’s ownership committee, clearing one of the final hurdles in his pursuit of a club he’s supported since childhood.
Sportico.com was the first to report the approval from the ownership committee, which is led by Pittsburgh Pirates Chairman Bob Nutting.
A New York Mets spokesman declined to confirm the report to the Daily Mail. MLB has refused to comment on the progress of the sale, which was agreed to on September 14.
Next Cohen will need approval from MLB’s executive council before his bid can be voted on by the 29 other owners. Cohen will need 22 other owners to approve the sale in order to finalize the deal — something that will likely take place after this month’s World Series.
The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Investor Steve Cohen’s $2.4 billion bid to purchase the New York Mets has reportedly been approved by Major League Baseball’s ownership committee, clearing one of the final hurdles in his pursuit of a club he’s rooted for since childhood
The Mets are coming off a disappointing 26-34 season in which they tied for last place in the National League East for the pandemic-shortened 2020 season
Cohen, who currently holds an 8 percent stake in the team, will own 95 percent if and when the deal is approved. The outgoing owners – the Wilpon family and longtime partner Saul Katz – will retain 5 percent of the club.
The 64-year-old billionaire from Great Neck, Long Island outbid several high-profile investors, like a group led by Alex Rodriguez and his fiancée Jennifer Lopez, as well as Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris.
Cohen had long been considered the favorite to buy the team, given his immense wealth, believed to be over $14 billion, according to Forbes, which gave the club a $2.4 billion valuation last year.
He offered $2.6 billion in late 2019, according to the New York Post. However that deal fell apart amid reported disagreements over the five-year transfer of the club to Cohen and the future role of Jeff Wilpon, the team’s COO and the son of Fred.
During the stalemate, Rodriguez and Lopez quickly added several high-profile investors to their group’s $2 billion offer, including retired NFL legends Brian Urlacher, Joe Thomas, DeMarco Murray, and two-time NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, according to ESPN.
Cohen eventually returned to the negotiating table to eclipse the bid put forth by Rodriguez and Lopez, which reportedly included $300 million in personal funds.
Cohen’s personal history is not without controversy.
He controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.
Cohen first bought into the Mets in 2012 when the team sought $20 million minority investment stakes following the collapse of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which cost the Wilpons and their companies large amounts.
Ultimately Cohen, the CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management, received 8 percent of the team for $40 million.
Cohen is believed to be the basis for actor Damian Lewis’s character on the Showtime series, ‘Billions,’ which focuses on a billionaire’s battles with a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York.
He’s also one of the world’s most prominent art collectors, having once spent $141.3 million on Alberto Giacometti’s ‘Pointing Man’ sculpture.
Cohen will sit atop the team’s sixth ownership group.
Doubleday & Co., a publisher, bought the Mets in 1980 from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95 percent of the team and Wilpon controlling 5 percent.
When Doubleday & Co. was sold to the media company Bertelsmann AG in 1986, the publisher sold its shares of the team for $80.75 million to Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.
Wilpon led a buyout of Doubleday’s shares in August 2002 and became chairman and sole controlling owner. Saul Katz, the owner’s brother-in-law and partner in the real estate firm Sterling Equities Inc., became team president and Jeff Wilpon, Fred’s son became COO at the time.
The Wilpons have been criticized heavily in recent years, with fans often taking aim at their former financial relationship with Madoff, as well as their reluctance to buy highly priced free agents.