Steve Cohen fired with both guns blazing in his second try to buy the Mets. Cash-hungry Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz may just jump at the offer.
Steve Cohen fired both guns in his second bid to purchase the Mets, putting up a number far beyond the reaches of other potential buyers.
According to a Fox Business report, Cohen submitted dual bids of $2 billion to purchase the Mets and Fred Wilpon’s coveted SNY network – putting the total value of the deal at $4 billion.
For Steve Cohen, four billion dollars represents only 30% of his estimated personal wealth of $13.6 billion, so there’s plenty left over to add to his fantastic collection of toys.
In his first dance with the Mets ownership, Cohen balked twice, and the deal fell through.
Cohen’s first obstacle was Wilpon’s insistence for a five-year “transition” in which son Jeff would maintain the operation of the Mets before Cohen took over exclusively.
The second non-starter back in early 2020 was Fred Wilpon’s insistence to not include the Mets Regional Sports Network (SNY) in the exchange, a pre-requisite to Steve Cohen’s bid.
Back To Where We Started? – Not At All
It’s a changing world that has brought Fred Wilpon and, perhaps even more so, Saul Katz, the two lifelong partners in Sterling Enterprises, the entity the legally owns the Mets.
Bleeding debt, to begin with, the onslaught of COVID’s impact on revenue in 2020 has only heightened the troubles facing Wilpon and Katz.
There’s a $450 million loan that came due on July 1 that needs to be dealt with, and another payment of $45 million in Citi Field debt that comes due at the end of the year.
If the team is sold by the end year, the $45 million, at least, is the responsibility of the new owner.
In sum, Wilpon and Katz are no longer kicking tires. It’s time to get out while the getting’s good. Katz, in particular, has seen and had enough.
This could mean that Katz leverages Wilpon to give up on his obsession with SNY and his refusal to sell. Steve Cohen is counting on just that to propel the sale(s) forward.
Although in question, if Fred Wilpon indeed still has half a brain left, he will see the light, take half of the $4 billion, pay off all of his debt, and fulfill a legacy to his family when he passes on (he’s 84).
Steve Cohen: The Pusher Or The Pragmatist
At the moment, Steve Cohen is powerless, a position he is not used to as a power player in the hedge fund market on Wall Street.
The sale of the Mets, with all seven all bids received, is totally in the hands of Allen & Co., who are charged to oversee the sale of the team.
Jeff Wilpon has said there would be no forthcoming announcements until the sale is final.
But for Steve Cohen and, for instance, the A-Rod/J-Lo team, does that mean there is no behind the scenes negotiating left to be done?
For Steve Cohen, at least, his DNA appears to say no – and his lobbying to buy the team has only just begun.
But wiser advisement might be to lay low simply. The money he’s putting up speaks for itself.
Save for last-minute and misguided hedging from the Wilpon camp (again!); this deal is all but done, save for the usual dotting of the I’s and crossing of the t’s.
For the moment, it’s the team of Katz and Wilpon in the driver’s seat, but that will not last for long. A finalized sale by the end of 2020 needs ample time for the lawyers to collect their billing hours.
In the interim, the Mets will continue leaking money. Steve Cohen – please stand by.