Friday, 1 August 2014
Last updated 13 min ago
May 10 2011 | 12:23pm ET
SAC Capital Advisors founder Steven Cohen appears the likeliest candidate to buy a minority stake in the New York Mets.
Cohen is "very close" to a deal with the current owners of the baseball team, Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz, the New York Post reports, and was to have dinner with them in his hometown, Greenwich, Conn., on Friday.
The tabloid, which said that the Wilpons and Katz were poised to pick Cohen as their preferred bidder from among the four finalists—who also include SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci—specified the restaurant and time, Gabriele's Steak House at 8 p.m.
The Wilpons, facing huge debts and more than $1 billion in potential liabilities in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme case, are looking to sell up to 49% of the Mets for at least $200 million. While the Wilpons and Katz have said they will retain control of the team, the new owner will be a member of a newly-created board and have major input on budgetary decisions, the Post reports.
The Wilpons have refused to comment on the bidding process.
"Cohen wants it," one source told the Post. "What he wants he gets. It's a trophy to him but not just a trophy. In time, it can be a real asset."
He hasn't always wanted it: Before putting the stake on sale, Fred Wilpon approached Cohen and Avenue Capital Partners' Marc Lasry about becoming minority partners. Both said they wouldn't invest without getting some control over the team.
And even if the Wilpons and Katz choose Cohen, he still needs the approval of baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Selig is not thought to be a fan of hedge funds; he imposed new restrictions on hedge funds buying team debt after hedge fund Monarch Alternative Capital used the Texas Rangers' debt to try to derail Major League Baseball's favored bid for that team last year. He's also not likely to be thrilled about the increasing scrutiny of Cohen and SAC in the Justice Department's ongoing insider-trading investigation. But Cohen would also easily be the richest owner in baseball with a net worth in excess of $7 billion.