Cohen to pursue second attempt at purchasing majority ownership of Mets: report

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Great Neck native and hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen has reportedly submitted a $2 billion bid for a majority stake in the New York Mets. (Photo from The Island Now archives)

Despite the coronavirus pandemic shortening Major League Baseball’s 2020 regular season to a mere 60 games, fans of the New York Mets were provided with a glimmer of hope Monday night.

According to an article from the New York Post, hedge fund billionaire and Great Neck native Steve Cohen will reportedly submit another bid for the Mets, months after an offer in December that would have valued the franchise at a baseball-record $2.6 billion fell apart.

Efforts to reach Cohen or a representative for comment were unavailing.

It has not been reported what the second potential offer will be worth.

Cohen is the CEO of Point72 Asset Management and has an estimated net worth of $9.2 billion. In 2012, Cohen bought an 8 percent partnership stake in the team for $40 million.

The proposed deal would have increased Cohen’s ownership of the team from 8 percent to 80 percent.

“I’m very disappointed we couldn’t work out a deal, but as an 8 percent holder, I’m looking forward to a higher bid for the team,”  Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times in February.

Sterling Partners, the company that runs the franchise, is headed by Fred Wilpon and Mets’ President Saul Katz, who is Wilpon’s brother-in-law. The company is a diversified, family-run group of companies, whose portfolio consists of real estate, sports and media in the New York area.  

In 1980, Wilpon purchased a 1 percent stake in the Mets. He and Nelson Doubleday Jr. of Doubleday publishing company agreed to purchase the team for $81 million in 1986, less than a month after winning the World Series.  Sixteen years later, Wilpon bought out Doubleday’s 50 percent stake in the company for $391 million.

After the man behind the $64 billion Ponzi scheme, Bernie Madoff, was arrested in 2008, questions arose as to how close his connections were to the Mets and longtime associate  Wilpon. 

Both he and Katz founded their real-estate development company, Sterling Equities in 1972. Thirteen years later, a year before splitting ownership in the Mets, Wilpon invested $3 million with Madoff. 

According to The Times, more than 500 accounts that Madoff possessed could be tied to Wilpon and Katz.

While a majority of the fan base has rejoiced in talk of the Wilpons’ days being numbered with the organization, Cohen’s track record is less than pristine.

In 2013, Cohen’s hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors pleaded guilty to insider trading charges after being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, eventually coming to terms on a $600 million settlement.

A Vanity Fair article in June 2013 portrayed  U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York as the Ahab to Cohen’s Moby Dick and described Cohen as the central figure of seven years of investigations that led to convictions or confessions from 71 people.

Michael Steinberg, a former top trader at SAC Capital, was charged with four counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy in 2013.  The charges against Steinberg were subsequently dismissed after the case was abandoned in 2015 after U.S. prosecutors said the case was no longer consistent with the law. He and Cohen are both alumni of Great Neck North High School.

Since 2002, the Mets have been to the postseason three times and accumulated 50 more losses than wins, going 1,432-1,482. In 2015, the team made its first World Series appearance in over a decade, eventually falling to the Kansas City Royals in five games.  

After a wild card loss to the San Francisco Giants the following year, the team has not made the playoffs since, and fans have voiced their aggravation. 

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