Battle for Mets control in the heart of Steve Cohen-Wilpon's fight


Steve Cohen believed that his $ 2.6 billion deal to buy the Mets in installments over five years would give him some control that would grow over that time to make team decisions during the transition , The owners of the Mets did not agree and a deal has not yet been concluded, it said.

This could be the latest in a series of deals in which the Wilpon family bought and sold shares in Mets that ended in dispute.

The implosion in the talks was sparked by disagreements over the opaque five-year window in which Cohen was supposed to take gradual control of the team from the controlling Wilpon family.

According to those familiar with the negotiations, the Wilpons Cohen recently made it clear that while he would pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year, they would remain in control of all franchise decisions until the end of the five years.

This was disapproved of by Cohen, a trader so famous for controlling his business that it was known to keep the trading floor of his previous hedge fund at exactly 69 degrees.

Steve Cohen Wilpon Mets Deal control
Jeff Wilpon, Steve CohenPaul J. Bereswill; Bloomberg

From the outset, the structure of waiting five years for the team to be handed over was seen as ready for conflict. While the Wilpons reported early on the deal that they would be majority shareholders by the fifth year, insiders knew that Cohen's money infusions would give him the right to sit at the table when it came to talent buying or hiring Front office workers went to windows.

In early January, sources near Cohen expressed confidence that he would gradually take control of the Mets in addition to his role as managing director of his Point72 Capital hedge fund.

From conversations with those familiar with the interviews, it is clear that uncertainty about whether Cohen would make team decisions during the five-year window was simply miscommunication or a last-minute surprise on the part of the Wilpons, as some sources claim.

The Wilpons get a reputation for deals that contain strange twists and turns.

• The Wilpons bought a 12 percent stake in the team from Comcast and Charter Communications in March 2019 at a price that was below expectations of $ 1.5 billion. Months later, the Wilpons agreed to sell the team to Cohen for $ 2.6 billion. If the Wilpons knew a Cohen deal was imminent, it looked like a suspicious deal, sources said.

• In 2011, hedge fund manager David Einhorn accused the Wilpons of attempting to rewrite his deal at the eleventh hour of the talk to acquire a minority stake in the team. The deal fell apart.

• The Wilpons gained control of Nelson Doubleday's Mets in 2002 by paying a valuation of less than $ 391 million with the help of an arbitrator chosen by Bud Selig, an MLB commissioner.

At that time, Doubleday said, "The valuation process that resulted in an artificially low valuation of the New York Mets was fundamentally flawed," and unsuccessfully sued Fred Wilpon for making more money.

The Mets and Cohen declined to comment.