NEW YORK – Billionaire Steve Cohen agreed on Monday the acquisition of a majority of the shares of the New York Mets and the closing of the operation, which must involve about 2.6 billion dollars and has been subject to the approval of, at least , 23 of the 30 teams in the majors.
Cohen, 64, outbid the group led by former Dominican player Alex Rodríguez and Puerto Rican singer Jennifer López.
“I’m excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to buy the New York Mets,” said Cohen, a New York-native hedge fund manager who began negotiations on August 28.
The consortium of J-Lo and A-Rod announced last month that it had made “a fully funded offer at a record price for the team,” but shortly thereafter expressed disinterest.
Mets fans have expressed support for the imminent arrival of Cohen, an avowed supporter of the team who, if admitted, will be the richest owner in the majors.
Since 2011, the Mets have been on the sidelines of the top 10 teams with the most expensive payrolls in the major leagues.
Only three times have they had a higher win balance than losses and only once, in 2015, did they advance to the playoffs, when they lost the World Series to the Kansas City Royals.
Cohen entered into negotiations to buy the Mets last year, but the deal fell through in February. He bought an 8% limited partnership stake for $ 40 million in 2012. The deal that did not close would have seen him acquire an 80% controlling interest in a transaction that valued the team at $ 2.6 billion.
The current group of Mets owners is headed by Fred Wilpon, his brother-in-law, Saul Katz, and their son, Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer.
Cohen bought the Mets 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 heavily. The limited partnership’s shares were sold after a proposed $ 200 million sale of a Mets stake to hedge fund manager David Einhorn fell through in 2011.
After the franchise spoke with several potential suitors, Cohen, 64, a hedge fund manager who is the CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management, entered into exclusive negotiations to buy the Mets last month. An on-off discussion with Cohen’s group began to gain momentum once and for all on Aug. 28, as both parties hoped to salvage a deal after an earlier deal to buy the equipment fell apart.
Cohen controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a fine of $ 900 million and lose another $ 900 million to the federal government, although $ 616 million that the SAC companies had already agreed to pay to resolve side actions of the Securities and Exchange Commission would be deducted from the $ 1.8 billion.
Publishing House Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets for $ 21.1 million in 1980 from the family of founding owner Joan Payson, with the company owning 95% of the team and Fred Wilpon 5%. When Doubleday & Co. was sold to media company Bertelsmann AG in 1986, the publisher sold his shares of the team for nearly $ 81 million to Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50% owners.
Wilpon led the purchase of Doubleday shares in 2002 and became president and majority owner. Katz, the owner’s brother-in-law and partner in real estate firm Sterling Equities Inc., became team president and Jeff Wilpon became chief operating officer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.