Mets line up minority owner

BY Ken Rosenthal • May 26, 2011

The New York Mets have chosen a limited partner: David Einhorn.

Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund, will pay $200 million for a minority share in the club.

The deal is expected to give Einhorn the first option to buy a majority stake in the team if the present owners — Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz — decide to sell.

''Having an opportunity to become part of the Mets franchise is exciting beyond my wildest childhood dreams,'' he said in a statement released by the Mets. ''I look forward to partnering with the Wilpon and Katz families through the good seasons, the tough seasons and especially the championship seasons.''

The Mets said Einhorn will be a ''preferred partner'' and have a ''nonoperating investment'' in the team. The club said the deal is subject to the ''negotiation of a mutually acceptable definitive agreement'' and is expected to be completed next month. Major League Baseball must give its approval.

The infusion of money from Einhorn will put the Mets in better position to operate while the owners fight a clawback lawsuit from Irving Picard, trustee for the victims of Bernie Madoff.

Picard is seeking as much as $1 billion from Fred Wilpon and Katz in principal and "fictitious profits" that the the lawsuit attests investors gained from Madoff. The two businessmen have steadfastly maintained that they were victims of Madoff, like thousands of others, and did not know of the Ponzi scheme.

The team is hoping to close on a deal by June 30 so it can use the investment cash to fund day-to-day operations and repay some debt. The Mets took a $30 million emergency loan from Major League Baseball last November.

With attendance down about 10 percent from last year, the Mets are on track to lose $60 million in 2011, by some estimates.

Recently, Forbes magazine estimated the value of the Mets had dropped 13 percent in one year to $747 million - and that was before the team's projected losses this season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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