It might be best to pump the brakes on crowning Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez as ‘clear-cut favorites’ to buy the New York Mets with final bids due by Aug 31.
A source with close knowledge of the situation told amNewYork Metro on Monday morning that there is still robust confidence that Steve Cohen will come away with majority ownership of the team, pending MLB approval.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported on Sunday that MLB executives believe the A-Rod and J-Lo group are the favorites after they brought on Florida Panthers (NHL) owner Vincent Viola and Vitamin Water co-founder Mike Repole.
Their combined net worth is believed to be around $8 billion while Rodriguez and Lopez are expected to put forth between $250 million to $300 million.
Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino speculated that Rodriguez and Lopez are suddenly — and surprisingly — being considered leading candidates because the Mets’ financials “aren’t very good,” which would make it difficult for any bidder, including Cohen, “to pay up.”
Regardless, the “J-Rod” group still does not have the funds of Cohen, a hedge-fund billionaire who is currently valued at around $14 billion. Nor does the third group, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer.
Cohen’s largest roadblock, however, could be securing the approval of three-quarters of MLB team owners due to his checkered past and the role he played when his deal to buy 80% of the Mets fell through back in February.
If he does win the bid for the Mets, which is expected to be north of $2 billion, MLB will launch a thorough investigation — as they would with any potential winner — into Cohen.
The sizable red flag will be the $1.8 billion fine he paid in a 2013 settlement of a government investigation in which he pled guilty to securities fraud while heading his previous hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors.
A victory for Cohen would also include the reconciliation between him and the Wilpons, whose relationship took a big hit when the sale of the team tanked earlier this year.
There is no guarantee that the Wilpons will be out of the picture, either. Cindy Adams of the New York Post reported Monday morning that Fred and Jeff Wilpon want to keep a 5% stake in the team after selling.