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Queens Chronicle

Fans happy over talk of Mets sale

Billionaire hedge fund manager Cohen looks for majority ownership of team

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Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2019 10:30 am

Mets fans are encouraged by the news that hedge fund manager Steve Cohen is negotiating with Sterling Partners, headed by Fred Wilpon and brother-in-law Saul Katz, to gain majority control of the franchise.

Cohen, 63, who has been a minority investor in the team since 2012, will continue as CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management. His stake in the Mets will continue to be managed by his family office, Cohen Private Ventures.

“I’m excited over it,” said Nick Giampietro of Howard Beach, known by Mets fans as “Pinman” for the many pins on his jersey. “I just hope it goes through. It gives all the Mets fans a lot of hope.”

He said he believes the Wilpons get a bad rap from fans. “They spend money, just not on the guys we need,” Giampietro said.

Another fan, Fredrick Bedell Jr. of Glen Oaks Village, was compelled to comment immediately in an email sent to Queens media outlets. “I have felt the Mets could have done better and produced another World Series championship,” he wrote. “So for that I would like to praise Steve Cohen for stepping up to the plate and wanting to produce a winning team.”

On the Facebook page “We are METS Believers,” one fan posted, “Sounds great to me! The fact that he’s a lifetime Mets fan is perfect. He knows exactly what we go through as fans, and he has the money to make this team as good as possible.”

Another fan was more direct: “Please Cohen deliver this team from the hell its been in for so many years of the Wilpons.”

There was also anti-Wilpon sentiment in comments on Dave’s Mets Dugout.

“That’s too long to assume control of the Mets,” one poster said. “I want the Wilpons out as soon as MLB approves the transaction.”

As part of the agreement, Wilpon will remain as “control person” and CEO for five years and his son, Jeff, will remain as COO for five years.

According to Forbes, Cohen is worth $13.6 billion. He attempted to buy the Dodgers in 2012 but was outbid by Guggenheim Partners.

He’s also had troubles. In 2013, SAC Capital Advisors, founded by Cohen, pleaded guilty to insider trading and paid $1.8 billion in fines. Cohen was prohibited from managing outside money for two years as part of the settlement reached in the civil case over his accountability.

Fred Wilpon became president of the Mets in 1980 when he bought 1 percent of the team. Nelson Doubleday of Doubleday & Co. held the rest. In 1986, they became equal partners in the team. Doubleday had sold Doubleday & Co. to Bertelsmann AG but Wilpon had right of first refusal and threatened to exercise it.

Wilpon bought the remaining half of the team in 2002, following a lawsuit to force Doubleday to sell.

In 2010, Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to recover and distribute the assets of disgraced former financier Bernie Madoff, sued Fred Wilpon and his real estate firm, Sterling Equities, for withdrawing money they invested with Madoff. Mets ownership reached a $162 million settlement on the day a civil trial was scheduled to begin. For years, fans criticized the team for not pursuing the league’s best free agents.

Sterling Equities, not the Mets, own SportsNet New York, which broadcasts the majority of the team’s games.

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