U.S. hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen is among the bidders for a minority stake in the New York Mets, according to a person familiar with the effort.
Cohen, 54, is the founder of SAC Capital Advisors LLC, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, and manages about $12 billion in assets. Cohen declined comment through a spokesman.
The Mets’ owners, the Wilpon family, have discussed selling a stake of between 25 percent and 49 percent in the Major League Baseball team. They’re seeking to retain control of the franchise while covering losses and fighting a $1 billion lawsuit tied to the Ponzi scheme created by Bernard L. Madoff.
Cohen, who was born in Great Neck, New York, is a long-time Mets fan, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported his involvement in the bidding. The person who confirmed Cohen’s involvement was granted anonymity because the matter is private.
Steve Starker, co-founder of the trading company BTIG; Ken Dichter, co-founder of Marquis Jets; and Douglas Ellin, creator of the HBO show “Entourage,” are part of another group that has bid for the Mets, the Journal said.
Another competitor is a group formed by hedge-fund manager Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of Skybridge Capital; and James McCann, the founder of 1-800-Flowers.com, which is a sponsor of the Mets, the New York Times reported.
An investment group led by David Heller, co-head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s securities unit, and Mark Spilker, president of private-equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, is out of the bidding, the Times said.
Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, said only the Mets can comment on potential bidders.
Mets officials said in a statement that they’re “neither confirming nor denying any speculation.”
The Mets are valued at $747 million, 13 percent less than a year ago, according to Forbes magazine’s annual list of team values. The franchise’s valuation ranks fifth in the majors and a sale of 25 percent to 49 percent would be worth between $187 million and $366 million, based on the Forbes figures.
Trustee Irving Picard, who is liquidating Madoff’s business, is seeking to recover $300 million in alleged phony profits made by Sterling Equities Inc., which owns the Mets, and as much as $700 million in principal. Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz said last month that Picard concocted his allegations against them to force a settlement, describing the accusations as a “work of fiction.”
Cohen has a net worth of $8 billion, ranking 114th on the Forbes magazine list of the world’s billionaires. SAC Capital has generated about 30 percent in annual returns over the past 20 years, the Times said. Cohen made $1.3 billion in 2010, fifth in an annual ranking of the highest-paid U.S. hedge-fund managers published by AR Magazine.
Cohen donated $50 million last year for pediatric care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, where the Mets’ Katz is a former chairman and current executive committee member.
Cohen also is an art collector, paying $137.5 million for the Willem de Kooning painting “Woman III” in 2006 and $84 million for an Andy Warhol image of Marilyn Monroe in 2007. Last month, he won a dismissal of his ex-wife’s lawsuit accusing him of cheating her out of money in their 1990 divorce. A U.S. District Court judge ruled Cohen’s ex-wife took too long to bring the case in 2009.