Opponents of billionaire Steve Cohen’s efforts to buy the New York Mets are licking their chops over fresh discrimination complaints filed against his firm, Point72 Asset Management, The Post has learned.
Back-to-back complaints by ex-female employees of Cohen’s Stamford, Conn., hedge fund have been filed with Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in recent months, Bloomberg reported last month.
And while the contents of the claims are unknown because the Connecticut anti-discrimination agency seals all proceedings, Cohen’s challengers for the Queens-based baseball team have been pointing out the Bloomberg story to powerful Major League Baseball owners and other interested parties in light of explosive sexual discrimination allegations filed against the firm in 2018, sources said.
“This is f–king huge,” a source close to a rival bidder told The Post. “All the owners need is another excuse” to refuse Cohen the team, this person said.
Ex-associate director Lauren Bonner‘s Manhattan federal court lawsuit described the $16 billion hedge fund firm as a “boys club” that subjected female staffers to misogynist treatment, including a whiteboard in a high-ranking manager’s office with the word “Pussy” scrawled across it for weeks, as well as male executives who admitted they don’t hire women because their “wives won’t let them.”
The case has since moved to arbitration, and Point72, which has been fighting the charges, declined to comment for this story.
The Post only learned about the latest discrimination claims last week when a man using technology to disguise his voice called to point out the Bloomberg story and suggest it could have a negative impact on Cohen’s bid for the Mets.
“Do you remember Lauren Bonner?” the person said. The caller, who declined to provide his name, then dropped the names of several MLB owners who he claimed have been leaning against Cohen as a fellow owner due in part to fears over what might be contained in the new complaints — should they ever come to light.
The owners named by the anonymous caller didn’t return requests for comment, but MLB sources confirmed that they are aware of the allegations swirling around Cohen’s firm.
“Given Cohen’s history, we don’t need this,” one MLB source told The Post, referring to Cohen’s 2013 settlement with the feds after his former firm, SAC Capital, pleaded guilty to securities fraud.
[Mets bidder Alex Rodriguez spotted leaving Jennifer Lopez’s apartment in Manhattan.][Backgrid]
Another MLB source said some owners don’t expect the claims to push the hedgie out of the running because they have been filed against Point72 and not Cohen personally. Owners who are leaning against Cohen may use it as an excuse to nix him, this person said.
The Mets have been up for sale since February when Cohen, 64, walked away from a deal to buy the team for $2.5 billion amid disagreements with its current owners, the real estate family led by Fred Wilpon. Cohen is now back with a new bid and is considered to be a frontrunner because of his estimated $14 billion net worth. But he’s also competing against at least two other interested parties, including a group led by former Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and a team led by Philadelphia 76ers owners Josh Harris and Dave Blitzer.
In choosing a new owner for the Amazins, the Wilpons have to consider who’s most likely to be approved by at least three-quarters of the controlling owners of MLB’s 30 teams. And the prospect of fresh discrimination claims that have yet to be unleashed could make some owners queasy, sources said.
[New York Mets Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon and Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer Fred Wilpon on January 24, 2020.][Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images]
Shannon Gitlin, a former Point72 investor relations executive, filed her complaint with the anti-discrimination commission in April, Bloomberg said. Her lawyer in that case, Jeanne Christensen, declined to comment.
Sara Vavra, the firm’s former head of global macro trading, filed her complaint in June, according to Bloomberg, which cited the commission’s Freedom of Information officer.
Vavra, who was the firm’s highest ranking female executive before she left the firm last year, did not return a request for comment. But she made a brief appearance in Bonner’s 2018 discrimination lawsuit, which claimed women at Point72 were sometimes paid 50 cents for each dollar earned by a man and that women were regularly denied promotions for being viewed as too aggressive.
“Recently, Ms. Bonner has heard male executives complain that Ms. Vavra, a new sector executive, is ‘too aggressive’ and is building her team in an aggressive manner. P72 hired Ms. Vavra to expeditiously grow a macro team. All other sector executives are male,” the suit said.