World_news Steve Cohen finalizes record deal to purchase Mets – New York Post


September 14, 2020|5: 35pm |UpdatedSeptember 14, 2020 | 6: 23pm

Now it is up to the 29 other major league owners to decide whether Steve Cohen will be the next owner of the Mets.

Cohen and the Wilpons reached agreement on the sale of the team Monday, the Mets and the hedge fund billionaire confirmed. The price, according to sources, was between $2.4 billion and $2.45 billion — a record for a North American sports team. The previous mark was set by another hedge fund billionaire, David Tepper, when he bought the Panthers for $2.275 billion.

“I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets,” Cohen said in a statement released by the team.

The next hurdles for Cohen are being vetted by an ownership subcommittee that will then make a recommendation to the larger group whether to accept Cohen into their club. A vote of all owners is expected to come before November; Cohen would need 23 yeses to succeed Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz as the majority owner of the Mets.

The hedge fund billionaire is a polarizing figure and there are no certainties that he would garner the necessary votes. His firm paid a $1.8 billion fine for insider trading and 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.

Cohen had previously reached agreement to buy 80 percent of the Mets, but that deal fell apart in February over disputes including how much input the Wilpons would continue to have in running the franchise.

Steve CohenEPA

The Mets were then put up for auction. Initially, Cohen did not bid, but then jumped back in. He grew up a Mets fan on Long Island and his passion for the team has not waned. This is his white whale and he wanted to own the club.

A consortium assembled by Alex Rodriguez and his fiancée, Jennifer Lopez, emerged as the strongest competitor to Cohen. The auction had a last-and-best offer date of Aug. 31.

According to sources, the A-Rod group requested exclusive negotiating rights in the days leading up to Aug. 31 or it would drop out, which it did. The sources said that the firm running the auction, Allen and Company, became concerned that the A-Rod group would make that decision public and that would move Cohen to lower his bid. So, the Wilpons and Cohen pivoted to Cohen and agreed to enter into exclusive negotiations with him.

The A-Rod group has attempted to stay a viable contender ever since. The consortium agreed that it would pay $2.35 billion. Subsequently, the A-Rod group let it be known that Lopez would be the control person, appealing because she would be the first Latina owner of a major sports franchise in North America.

However, despite the anger the Wilpons harbored from the initial sale falling through, they never flinched and stuck with finalizing a deal with Cohen. The price was right and so was the timing — the Wilpons and Katz want to be done with the sale by Dec. 31 for tax purposes. Cohen, who already was a limited partner who owned 8 percent, will now get 95 percent of the team, as long as the other MLB owners vote in him.

His candidacy — because of his financial wherewithal — always has been the once most favored by Mets fans, who have imagined him bringing the club’s payroll up to Yankee ranges … or beyond.

Now it is just up to the other owners to see whether that is what Cohen would do with the team.

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