SBD/May 26, 2011/Franchises

Mets, Einhorn In Exclusive Negotiations For Minority Stake Worth $200M

Mets, Einhorn looking to finalize deal for less than 49% stake by end of June

The Mets announced this morning that they have entered exclusive negotiations with Greenlight Capital President David Einhorn to purchase a minority, non-operating investment in the team for $200M. The deal is subject to MLB approval, and the parties aim to have a definitive agreement by late June (THE DAILY). Sources said that the deal is for less than a 49% stake in the Mets and "will not include" ownership in SportsNet N.Y. (ESPN.com, 5/26). On Twitter, Newsday’s Neil Best wrote, “Despite all the reports about Mets willing to part with a piece of SNY, they always were confident they could get this done without that” (TWITTER.com, 5/26). Meanwhile, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, the court-appointed mediator in the dispute between Mets Owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz and Bernie Madoff trustee Irving Picard, yesterday said that the "mediation was entering a critical phase in which discussions on the framework of a possible settlement could begin." Cuomo said that by the "end of next week, both sides should have submitted their valuations on the assets of Sterling Equities, Wilpon and Katz's holding company." Those assets "include the Mets, real estate and private equity investments and 65 percent of SNY." Cuomo: "After that, we'll have some serious sitdowns. It won't take long after that to see if a deal will be made" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/26).

TRYING TO CALM THE STORM: Mets GM Sandy Alderson yesterday said that cuts to the team's payroll this offseason will not be as "extreme" as Wilpon indicated in an interview with SI, when he suggested that it "may be slashed dramatically" to about $100M. Alderson said, "From my standpoint, ($100 million) is not a number we’ve discussed. I would expect our payroll to be somewhat above that number and somewhat below where we are now ($136.3 million)." When asked if next season's payroll could be around $120M, Alderson said, "Within that range, I think that’s a fair statement and something you could rely on. But there’s a potential minority investor that may come on board and it may depend on how we end up this season, so there are a lot of other factors in play" (N.Y. POST, 5/26). Asked whether the Mets will be more aggressive in free agency this offseason than last, Alderson said, "We weren't aggressive at all this past winter. Let's face it. So yeah, I guess I would expect to be a little more active, but let's wait and see how it plays out" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/26). More Alderson: "I’ve said that the financial situation is somewhat more challenging that I had originally anticipated. I didn’t expect this to be an easy task. At this point, I’ve said a number of times that none of these financial issues has affected any of the decisions that we’ve made. Now, whether that will happen, whether that effect will occur down the road, we’ll see" (NJ.com, 5/25).

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