Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez and his fiancé, recording artist and actor Jennifer Lopez, have retained JPMorgan Chase to raise capital for a possible bid on the New York Mets, people familiar with the matter said.
The superstar couple is working with managing director Eric Menell, the bank’s co-head of North American media investment banking, said the people, who were granted anonymity because the matter is private. Menell didn’t respond to several requests seeking comment.
Representatives for Rodriguez and Lopez did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, said in December they were in talks to sell up to 80% of the Major League Baseball team to hedge fund titan Steve Cohen in a deal that valued the club at $2.6 billion. Under terms of that proposed deal, the Wilpons would’ve maintained control of the franchise for five years.
Negotiations fell apart after Cohen sought to amend the terms.
The Mets have retained Allen & Co.’s Steve Greenberg to oversee the sale process.
It isn’t uncommon for an athlete, entertainer or celebrity to hold a limited position in a professional sports team. A-Rod’s former teammate, Derek Jeter, for instance, is a part owner of baseball’s Miami Marlins. The team’s managing partner is venture capitalist Bruce Sherman, while Jeter, who owns about 4% of the club, runs business and baseball operations. Jeter contributed about $25 million to the purchase of the team, which was sold for $1.2 billion.
A-Rod and J-Lo, as the recording artist is known, would similarly require deep-pocketed partners in order to pull off the purchase. Their combined net worth is about $700 million.
As a player, A-Rod entertained signing with the Mets as a free agent in 2000. He ultimately signed a record 10-year, $252 million deal with the Texas Rangers. He was then traded to the Yankees, where he won a World Series.
J-Lo is from the Bronx, home of the Yankees.
Unlike with Cohen, no preconditions regarding control of the team will be attached to the sale. Cohen holds an 8% stake in the Mets.
The Wilpons assumed control of the franchise in 2002 at a valuation of $391 million. Whoever buys the team will assume annual losses of at least $50 million.
Scott Soshnick is the editor-in-chief of Sportico, Penske Media’s new sports business platform.