Steve Cohen is close to becoming the new owner of the New York Mets. The billionaire hedge fund titan is in exclusive talks to take over the club from the Wilpon and Katz families, according to a person with knowledge of the proceedings. The person was granted anonymity because the matter is private.
Investment bank Allen & Co., which is overseeing the sale, declined to comment, and a spokesman for Cohen declined to comment.
The final three bidding groups for the team include Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own basketball’s Philadelphia 76ers and hockey’s New Jersey Devils, as well as former big-league star Alex Rodriguez, whose backers include Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola and Vitaminwater co-founder Mike Repole. Rodriguez’s group is said to have pulled out of the bidding on Friday night. Final bids were to be submitted Monday.
The 64-year-old Cohen, whose net worth is about $14 billion, would become MLB’s richest owner, fueling speculation that he’ll spend whatever it takes to deliver the team’s first World Series title since 1986. The Mets reached two World Series since then, losing both. The Mets last reached the postseason in 2016.
Buying the team would fulfill a lifelong dream for Cohen, who grew up in Great Neck, New York, rooting for the Mets.
Even though Cohen already holds an 8% stake in New York’s National League team, his purchase must still be approved by baseball’s owners, a process that requires 23 votes in favor of the proposed deal.
Approval isn’t a rubber stamp for Cohen, whose firm, Point 72 Asset Management, was sued by a former female employee who alleges the company discriminates against women. The company has denied the allegation. There is also concern from some other owners that Cohen would spend freely on players, damaging their efforts to curb salaries.
The sale does not include SNY, the team’s regional sports network.
Cohen was close to buying the team before. In December, he was in talks to buy up to 80% of the team at a valuation of $2.6 billion. Those negotiations fell apart, sparking the latest sales process. The Wilpon and Katz families control about 68% of the team through Sterling Equities.
Major League Baseball is playing an abbreviated 60-game season. The Mets are 14-16, and are playing Game two of a doubleheader against the Yankees.
The current owners acquired a controlling stake in the franchise for $391 million in 2002.