MLB owners have voted to approve billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen as the new owner of the New York Mets, it was announced Friday.
The proposed purchase of 95% of the Mets by an entity of Cohen had already been approved by MLB’s ownership committee. Cohen needed 23 of the 30 clubs to sign off for the deal to be approved.
The sale values the franchise at $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion.
Cohen, 64, is CEO and president of Point72 Asset Management.
The Mets’ ownership group had been headed by Fred Wilpon, his brother-in-law Saul Katz and Wilpon’s son Jeff, the team’s chief operating officer. The Wilpon and Katz families will retain 5% of the team after the sale, which is expected to be finalized within the next 10 days.
“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,” MLB 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.”
Cohen first bought into the Mets when the team sought $20 million in minority investment stakes following the collapse of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which was costly to the Wilpons and their companies. The limited partnership shares were sold after a proposed $200 million sale of a stake of the Mets to hedge fund manager David Einhorn fell through in 2011.
Cohen already has announced that former general manager Sandy Alderson would return as team president.
In a statement Friday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city law department had completed its legal review of the proposed sale and that the city does not object to it.
A provision in the city’s lease agreement says any new owner of the team cannot be someone who has been convicted of a felony or is an organized crime figure. Citi Field, where the Mets play, is on city land.
Cohen’s former company, SAC Capital Partners, pleaded guilty in an insider trading case in 2014 and paid $1.8 billion in fines. Cohen himself, though, was not charged in the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.