Wilpons in Talks to Sell Majority of Mets to Steve Cohen

Steven A. Cohen, a minority investor with the Mets, is negotiating with the Wilpon family to purchase a controlling stake in the team, according to two people close to the negotiations.

A completed deal was not imminent and still subject to approval by Major League Baseball owners, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

Under the agreement being negotiated, Cohen would purchase 80 percent of the team, according to one of the people. In an announcement Wednesday about the negotiations, Cohen and the Mets said that Fred Wilpon, the current controlling owner of the Mets, and his son Jeff, the chief operating officer, would remain in their positions for the next five years.

In 2012, when the Wilpons were in financial difficulties after becoming ensnared in Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, Cohen paid $20 million for a small share of the Mets. He currently owns 8 percent of the team, according to one of the people. Cohen purchased his share after the collapse of an announced $200 million sale of a minority stake in the team to hedge fund manager David Einhorn.

Cohen, the 63-year-old billionaire founder of the hedge fund Point72 Asset Management, grew up in Great Neck on Long Island, not far from Shea Stadium, the former home of the Mets. He previously founded SAC Capital, which pleaded guilty in 2013 to insider trading charges and paid a $1.8 billion penalty. In 2016, Cohen reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which he agreed to cease managing money for others for two years.

Wilpon, 83, bought a 1 percent stake of the Mets in 1980 when Doubleday & Company, a publishing company, bought the team. Wilpon became an equal partner of the team in 1986. He bought the remaining 50 percent in 2002 for $391 million.

The Wilpons have been criticized for not being willing to spend enough to lure in top players. The Mets ranked 12th in the major leagues in total payroll for the 2019 season.

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