Sports bankers say the specter of Cohen’s fortune-and lifelong affinity for the Mets- looms over the sale process, which is being overseen by the investment bank Allen & Co.
Cohen, who already holds an 8% stake in the Mets, back in December was in talks to buy up to 80% of the Major League Baseball club.
The hedge fund titan, whose net worth is estimated to be more than $10 billion, was seemingly the perfect buyer, sports bankers said. He grew up nearby rooting for the team and, most importantly, had the resources to buy it without investors and absorb annual losses of at least $50 million. (Those losses will mount as COVID-19 has delayed the season, which is now set to begin July 23.)
That proposed deal had a fatal flaw, though: It allowed Fred Wilpon to maintain control of the franchise for five years.
The talks ultimately fell apart, leaving Wilpon to seek other prospective bidders including 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.
Cohen likely will make a bid, according to a person familiar with the matter.
David and Simon Reuben, who have a combined net worth of $14 billion, also have explored a bid for the team, Sportico has reported. The brothers, however, are more interested in a real estate development opportunity than a baseball team.
A spokesman for Cohen declined to comment.
It isn’t unusual for bid groups to consolidate, particularly when one is in need of capital. That wouldn’t be the case with Cohen.
MLB pre-approved seven groups at the outset, giving them access to a so-called data room, which allows prospective bidders to begin their due diligence. That group of seven didn’t include Cohen, who through his minority stake is familiar with the team’s operations.
The Wilpon and Katz families, who control about 68% of the team through Sterling Equities, hope to complete a transaction by the end of the year. The team’s regional sports network isn’t part of the deal.