MLB owners approve sale of Mets to Steve Cohen

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball owners voted Friday to approve the sale of the New York Mets to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

The sale from the Wilpon and Katz families values the franchise at between $2.4 billion and $2.45 billion, a record for a baseball team. The sale is likely to close within 10 days.

An entity controlled by Cohen will own 95% of the franchise, and the Wilpon and Katz families will retain 5% of the team.

Former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson will return as team president.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city does not object to the sale. The city had the right to review the proposed transfer of the lease of Citi Field, the Mets’ home since 2009.

The current Mets ownership group is headed by Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katz and Wilpon’s son Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer.

“I extend my best wishes to Fred Wilpon, Saul Katz and Jeff Wilpon and thank them for their longstanding efforts for the Mets. In particular, we appreciate Fred’s decades of service to league committees and the governance of the game,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Mr. Cohen on receiving approval from the major league clubs. Steve will bring his lifelong passion for the Mets to the stewardship of his hometown team, and he will be joined by highly respected baseball leadership as well. I believe that Steve will work hard to deliver a team in which Mets fan can take pride.”

The 64-year-old Cohen is CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management. He first bought an 8% limited partnership stake in 2012 for $40 million.

The publisher Doubleday & Co. bought the Mets in 1980 from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95% of the team and Wilpon controlling 5%.

When Doubleday & Co. was sold to Bertelsmann AG in 1986, the publisher sold its shares of the team for $80.75 million to Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.

Wilpon completed his buyout of Doubleday in August 2002, ending what had become an acrimonious partnership. Under the original appraisal, Doubleday would have received $137.9 million — half the team’s $391 million value after accounting for debt. Wilpon sued, and the sides then settled.

Cohen controlled SAC Capital Advisors, which in 2013 pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. SAC agreed to pay a $900 million fine and forfeit another $900 million to the federal government, though $616 million that SAC companies had already agreed to pay to settle parallel actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was to be deducted from the $1.8 billion.

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