Steve Cohen’s bid on the New York Mets values the Major League Baseball team at about $2.35 billion, $250 million less than what he had agreed to pay in December, according to two people familiar with the process.
Cohen is in exclusive talks to acquire the team from the Wilpon and Katz families, the clearest indication yet that that hedge fund titan will be the club’s new owner.
An agreement may be reached within a week, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the deal isn’t signed.
Allen & Co., the investment bank overseeing the sale process, declined to comment on specifics of the bid. A spokesman for Cohen, a Long Island native who grew up rooting for the Mets, declined to comment.
Cohen, who already holds an 8% stake in the franchise, was in talks in December to acquire up to 80% of the team in a deal that valued the franchise at $2.6 billion. That deal would’ve allowed the Wilpons to retain control of the club for five years and kept Jeff Wilpon in place as the team’s chief operating officer for that time.
Those talks fell apart, prompting the Mets to seek a new buyer. Besides Cohen, the other bidders for the team were groups led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris and one fronted by former big-league star Alex Rodriguez, who withdrew his offer when Cohen was granted exclusivity.
Cohen’s previous offer was made prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of professional sports, which is costing MLB franchises hundreds of millions in revenue due to games being played without fans.
Prior to the pandemic, the Mets lost at least $50 million a year. That could swell to $200 million this season, accounting for the lower valuation. The current owners acquired a controlling stake in the franchise for $391 million in 2002.
MLB is attempting to play an abbreviated 60-game season, down from the usual 162, because of the pandemic. The Mets are 15-20 this season.