Steve Cohen can and will outbid all offers to buy the Mets. So, why is there a good chance he will not be able to close the deal with the Wilpons?
Steve Cohen, probably like most of us, is assuming that money talks. And therefore, it follows that as long as he continues to outbid the competition, the Mets belong to him.
In the ordinary course of business dealings, he is correct. If someone offers you ten dollars for your wheelbarrow and I offer you five, why would you sell to me?
Ah, but this sale is not a personal transaction, and the part of it that is personal has the chance to overturn logic completely. Let me explain.
First, the sale of the Mets is not a personal transaction between Fred Wilpon and, we’ll say, Steve Cohen. That is true more so for Wilpon than Cohen, who operates from personal worth estimated at $13.6 billion. But even Cohen has limitations.
Although often referred to as the owner of the Mets, Fred Wilpon is a partner with long-time business associate Saul Katz, and they jointly own Sterling Equities, which according to reports, holds two-thirds of the Mets franchise.
Steve Cohen Battles Sterling And Family Chaos
So, on that end, it’s complicated – as you can see in the number of Wilpons and Katz’s among Sterling Equities partners. Typically, the dads would rule (Fred and Saul).
But in the case of Steve Cohen’s previous attempt to buy the Mets in early 2020, it was family members who were said to have intervened for personal reasons.
For one, Katz’s family members had second thoughts about Jeff Wilpon (Fred’s son) ability to operate the team for five years after the sale was completed.
Uppity Jeff chimed in angrily it was only five years and not more. Steve Cohen could alone stand by to look at the chaos. But he did more than stand by, voicing his objection to little Jeffie’s rudeness and arrogance.
Fred Wilpon, ever the enabler, backed his son, and eventually, the deal fell through.
Remnants of those exchanges still exist today, and the possibility of internal family wars and spite towards Steve Cohen can resurface, altering the pattern of the sale today.
This is why Cohen’s advisors, if he has any, should be telling him to lay low – no matter what is said. Let your money speak for itself. No statements, no Tweets, just shut up.
Steve Cohen’s Second Possible Intrusion
Another intrusion facing Steve Cohen is the role of Major League Baseball (MLB) in the sale process. MLB has the right to approve or disapprove the sale to a particular party. Without approval, any amount of money will not change the bidder’s status – he’s out.
Interestingly though, Steve Cohen was approved during the sale that fell through earlier this year.
The point of contention then was (and still would be) that in 2013, Cohen pleaded guilty to insider trading and agreed to pay $1.8 billion in fines (900 million in a forfeiture agreement and 900 million in penalties).
One can surmise that MLB granted the approval only because if they didn’t, they’d be forced to explain why they didn’t oust the Wilpons after Fred Wilpon was fined $700 million for his involvement as an active player in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Be that as it may, anyone or a group of current team owners, as well as Commissioner Manfred can raise the issue’s ugly head again to forestall the sale of the Mets to Steve Cohen.
Steve Cohen: A Winning Strategy
Steve Cohen, like any successful person in their chosen craft, is not used to be being pushed around. Instead, when confronted, he’s more likely to come out with both guns blazing.
Cohen would be unwise to engage in anything confrontational or controversial at this time. The leader board says he’s out front with a comfortable margin.
He beat, even by default, the insider trader problem once – he can do it again if he must.
Unlike last time, Sterling Equities is desperate to rid themselves of current and future debt associated with the Mets. Steve Cohen is a single cash buyer ready to sign on the dotted line.
All that remains is for the process to play itself out. For Steve Cohen at this juncture, that should only mean one thing – let it be.