According to multiple sources, a minority stake in the New York Mets is expected to be sold by the end of May. The percentage could be as low as 20 percent, but could rise to as much as 49 percent. The club hopes to net $200 million; possibly more.
According to the New York Daily News, four groups are believed to be still in the running for the minority stake in the Mets, but the financial sources say a group led by hedge-fund manager Steve Cohen, the founder of SAC Capital Advisors, appears to be the leader, followed by a group led by Skybridge Capital managing partner Anthony Scaramucci and James McCann, the founder of 1-800-Flowers.com.
The Mets would not comment on the bidders.
"Contrary to media speculation, during the course of our ongoing negotiations for a sale of a minority interest in the New York Mets, we continue to have conversations with a number of interested parties," the team said in a statement.
"Since these conversations are confidential, we will neither confirm nor deny the identity of any of the possible partners nor the details of any potential deal."
Questions swirl as to how much control any investors might have in the decision-making process with the Mets. According to the Daily News, a source familiar with the sale process said the Wilpons are willing to give potential partners input into big-cost decisions, such free-agent signings, but want to maintain ultimate control of the day-to-day operations of the club.
The Mets have two key obligations that the proceeds from the sale would address immediately. To cover operating expenses last fall, the club borrowed $25 million from league last fall. On top of league loan, a $20 million stadium debt obligation on Citi Field is due at the end of June.
Sterling Equities, which owns the club and sees majority owners Chairman and chief executive officer Fred Wilpon, chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and president Saul Katz, have been rocked by a lawsuit by Irving Pichard, the trustee representing the victims of the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme. Sterling invested heavily with Madoff, and Pichard contends that the Mets ownership group profited from those investments with Madoff. Last year Pichard was seeking $1 billion to settle the claims, but Sterling has chose to fight the claims.
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