Minority Owner Steve Cohen Negotiating To Buy Larger Share Of Mets

Report: Team In Talks To Sell Up To 80% Stake

Ryan Chatelain
December 04, 2019 - 5:13 pm

There could soon be a change in the Mets' ownership dynamic, although the Wilpons are expected to remain in charge for a while longer.

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The Mets released a statement Wednesday saying that minority owner and hedge fund titan Steve Cohen is negotiating with the Wilpons' Sterling Partners to acquire a larger stake of the baseball team.

Fred Wilpon would remain the control person and chief executive officer for five years, and Jeff Wilpon would remain chief operating officer for five years, the Mets said. 

The statement did not say what percentage of the team Cohen is seeking to buy or what the Wilpons' role would be after five years. But Bloomberg reported the Mets are in talks to sell up to 80% of the team to Cohen. The transaction would reportedly value the franchise at $2.6 billion overall. 

Steve Cohen
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There would be a pathway for Cohen to take control of the Mets after five years, according to Bloomberg. 

The Wilpons would retain a minority stake in the team after five years, Bloomberg reported. Fred Wilpon is making the move as part of "estate and philanthropic planning," the report said.

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% of the team and Wilpon controlling 5%.

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 became COO.

Cohen will continue as CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management, and his investment in the Mets will continue to be managed by his family office, Cohen Private Ventures, the Mets said.

Cohen, 63, is estimated to be worth more than $9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His business, however, have sometimes run into trouble with the law. 

In 2013, Cohen's firm, then known as SAC Capital, agreed to pay $1.8 billion to settle charges that it tolerated rampant insider trading. In 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission barred Cohen -- who was accused of failing to adequately oversee an employee who engaged in insider trading -- from managing money for outside investors for two years. Cohen did not admit to any wrongdoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.