Steve Cohen’s got the votes to become the Mets’ next owner. The hedge-fund billionaire on Friday received the necessary 75 percent of the vote by MLB owners, completing his $2.4 billion
Steve Cohen’s got the votes to become the Mets’ next owner.
The hedge-fund billionaire on Friday received the necessary 75 percent of the vote by MLB owners, completing his $2.4 billion transaction with Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to become the team’s majority owner and control person. Shortly after that news came out, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City had “no objections.” And with that, the final two obstacles were cleared by the 64-year-old Cohen.
The Post had reported in recent days, de Blasio has been searching for legal loopholes that would block Cohen.
“The New York City Law Department has completed its legal review of the proposed sale of the Mets,” de Blasio said in a statement. “New York City does not object to the sale, and the Mets may proceed with the transaction.”
Cohen said in his own statement that he would donate $17.5 million to City programs, increase the giving of the Mets Foundation and restore the salaries of employees who had their wages cut early in the pandemic.
“Ya gotta believe the Mets will be investing in their community!” de Blasio lated added on Twitter. “Protecting workers, helping New York City small businesses and supporting communities of color is Amazin’.”
Cohen had already been cleared by the eight-person ownership committee, chaired by the Phillies’ John Middleton. Before Friday’s vote by the general membership, Cohen’s candidacy also had to clear a vote by the executive council.
Among the issues Cohen faced was the fact that his former hedge fund, S.A.C Capital Advisors, pleaded guilty to insider trader charges and was fined $1.8 billion. Cohen was reprimanded by the SEC and received a two-year ban from managing outside money. Cohen’s firm Point72 faced a gender discrimination lawsuit from a female employee that alleged unfair pay practices and a sexist work environment. That case was settled out of court.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Mr. Cohen on receiving approval from the Major League Clubs,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Steve will bring his lifelong passion for the Mets to the stewardship of his hometown team, and he will be joined by highly respected baseball leadership as well. I believe Steve will work hard to deliver a team in which Mets fans can take pride.”
Cohen, who grew up a Mets fan on Long Island, has an estimated net worth of $14 billion and is expected to invest heavily in a team that has faced financial restrictions in recent years.
Wilpon and his brother-in-law Katz became the Mets’ sole owners in 2002, after buying out Nelson Doubleday’s 50 percent stake in the team. Wilpon and Katz were heavily invested with Bernie Madoff, whose 2008 arrest for running a Ponzi scheme choked the club’s finances.
Cohen, who became a minority partner in 2012, entered exclusive negotiations to buy the club last winter, but the deal disintegrated over a disagreement on team COO Jeff Wilpon’s future role in the organization. The initial agreement called for Wilpon to retain his title for five years.
The Mets remained for sale through baseball’s shutdown for the pandemic, with a group fronted by Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez making a strong push for the purchase. Another group, headed by 76ers and Devils managing partners David Blitzer and Josh Harris, also emerged. Final bids were submitted in August, at which time Cohen again entered exclusive negotiations to buy the team. The deal does not include SNY.
Cohen has told associates he expects the Mets to lose about $400 million over his first two years as the new owner.