Steve Cohen gave it “my best shot” in early 2020 when his deal to buy the Mets fell through. “Disappointed,” then – the tide is turning in his favor now.
Steve Cohen, according to Steve Cohen, is a lifelong fan of the Mets. At 64, he’s survived at the top of the competitive hedge fund market, amassing a fortune estimated to be $13.6 billion.
As with most people residing in the top 1%, spending money becomes as great a problem as the 99% has in trying to make a decent living. Houses (multiple) and cars (numerous) become easy targets, but soon creativity becomes a must.
This might be the reason Steve Cohen felt compelled to buy a 14-foot shark preserved in formaldehyde, a work by Damien Hirst that cost him about $8 million. (photo right)
Shallow, however, is not a word that applies to Steve Cohen. No, his interests go well beyond the many Picasso’s prominently displayed in each of the homes he owns.
Steve Cohen wants to own the New York Mets. He is not kicking tires when he puts a bid in for $2 billion to buy the team outright, plus another $2 billion to purchase the Mets’ Regional Sports Network (SNY).
Steve Cohen: One More Time
No, Steve Cohen has had skin in this pursuit for some time now. His toes touched the water in 2012 when he arranged to purchase a small stake (8 percent) in the Mets.
Cohen stood by, powerless to do much as Fred Wilpon, on behalf of Sterling Enterprises, managed to effectively destroy what should have been a money-making enterprise located in New York City, the baseball capital of the world (think Yankees).
Their plight reached its nadir in December 2019, when Forbes declared, “The Wilpon family is only worth a reported $500 million. They simply don’t have the capital to run the team anymore”.
That assessment has spilled over to the present in a scenario where the Wilpons are no longer kicking tires. Their interest in selling is real, and the sooner, the better.
And therefore, Steve Cohen is “real” as a bidder for the Mets. To make his point, no other bidding team (there are no other single buyers) came close to what Cohen had offered when the bidding closed last week.
Steve Cohen: Even Billionaires Still Dream
But the salient point remains. It’s now or never for Steve Cohen and his dream of owning the Mets.
It is a rare occurrence when a major league franchise goes up for sale. Double down on that for a team in New York. It’s been forty years between the Wilpons and today – and well more than a half-century since the Steinbrenner family took control of the Yankees (1973).
Although Cohen took a stab at buying the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011, he was thwarted at the time by ongoing federal investigations into his dealings as a hedge fund manager and founder of SAC Capital Advisors, and the subsequent “itchiness” by MLB to have him as an owner.
Clearly, though, except for the Dodgers ties to Brooklyn, Cohen’s heart is with the Mets, and it’s where he wants to establish a legacy that reaches beyond the efforts and abilities of the Wilpons.
No charges were filed, and since then, Steve Cohen finds himself in the good graces of MLB, based on Cohen’s seal of approval from MLB during the sale process earlier this year.
Last Minute Maneuverings Still In-Play
Not to be underestimated, Cohen’s “pre-approval” by MLB puts him several steps and weeks ahead of all other potential buyers, who have yet to undergo MLB’s inquest.
This would seem to weigh heavily on the sale process, especially if Fred Wilpon and partner Saul Katz are as anxious to sell now as has been widely reported.
In the words of Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” Anything can happen, and even as I write these words, the team of Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez is out there gathering additional investors, hoping they too can reach the level of Steve Cohen’s $2 billion offer to buy the team.
Given the motivation the Wilpons have for a quick sell, the edge still goes to Steve Cohen even if his offer is matched.
Steve Cohen, as a single investor, answers only to himself, while multiple investment bids come with all sorts of potential snags and red tape to sort through.
For one thing, each investor has his team of lawyers involved, a sure way to slow anything down.
One investor wants this clause included in the deal while another investor says okay, but I want to add these words to the provision. Meanwhile, the lawyers rack up billable hours as the Wilpons stand nervously by.
Supposedly, since the two parties were not able to close a deal, Fred, son Jeff, and Steve Cohen have mended fences, and both parties have agreed they can play in the same sandbox. But these things hinge as much on personalities and “people” as anything.
At the moment, though, Steve Cohen still has the winning hand and a chance to fulfill a dream.