Wilpons end talks with Cohen but still intend to sell the New York Mets

New York Mets
Dec 7, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Mets sign and logo during the MLB winter meetings at Gaylord Opryland Resort. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

According to the New York Mets‘ beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo, the team will not be selling a majority stake to Steve Cohen. The Queens’ squad confirmed the news. The hedge fund manager was looking to acquire his favorite ballclub since December, but talks recently hit a snag and they ultimately decided not to continue with the negotiations.

The Mets explained that they still intend to sell the team, just not to Cohen and his group. In fact, they announced the hiring of a local investment bank to assist with the process. As it turns out, the New York Mets will be exchanging hands relatively soon.

Earlier in the week, reports started to come up about the snag in the negotiation process, ongoing since late last year. The parent firm of the Wilpon, Sterling Equities, confirmed that much.

“The transaction between Sterling and Steve Cohen was a highly complicated one,” the statement said. “Despite the efforts of the parties over the past several months, it became apparent that the transaction as contemplated would have been too difficult to execute.”

The terms of the Mets’ sale that fell apart

What we knew before the negotiations fell apart was that the proposed deal included a transition period of five years. Over that timeframe, Fred and Jeff Wilpon would still manage the Mets’ operations and decisions. That setting, according to DiComo, “became a point of contention between the Wilpons and Cohen during negotiations.”

In Thursday’s early hours, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called “the assertion that the transaction fell apart because of something the Wilpons did … completely and utterly unfair.” He also said that at the time, he didn’t think a deal would happen. Time proved him right.

The Wilpons hired the services of Allen & Company, a local investment bank. The idea is for the firm to help them manage the sale of the Mets to another group. The Wilpons and Saul Katz (the team’s president) have been the majority owners since 2002, with Jeff Wilpon as the COO since that year.