Three groups interested in Mets stake
At least three suitors have expressed interest this week in buying a minority stake in the Mets — adhering to the terms that the team's owners find acceptable, the New York Post reported Wednesday citing sources close to and on different sides of the auction.
The potential bids, if they hold up through these early rounds, would allow Fred Wilpon, his son Jeff, and brother-in-law Saul Katz to retain control of the team.
The white knights emerged from the roughly six bidding groups that were pre-approved by Major League Baseball.
The Mets are seeking $200 million for up to a 49 percent stake. That would value the Mets, including roughly $500 million in debt, at more than $900 million.
The three groups, sources said, that have expressed their intent to buy a minority stake include: the team of Steve Starker, co-founder of the global trading firm BTIG, and Ken Dichter, the co-founder of Marquis Jet; a group led by Anthony Scaramucci, the general manager of SkyBridge Capital; and Goldman Sachs Securities co-head David Heller et al.
But sources said bidders had expressed skepticism over the valuation, and the team hinted that in the second round, which is expected to conclude by April 15, a small piece of the separately owned and profitable SportsNet New York (SNY) network could be offered to make up any shortfall in value.
Among the issues to be ironed out in a second round is how a new investor's stake would change if, down the road, they were asked to invest more money.
The $200 million sought by the team is expected to be used to fund the team's operations and pay off a portion of its debt.
The Mets financial squeeze started on Dec. 11, 2008, when Bernie Madoff was arrested and charged with running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. The team had been financing its day-to-day operation with Madoff profits. Without the steady revenue stream, the money-losing Mets were forced to borrow $25 million from the league last November.
In addition, Wilpon and Katz are feeling the financial heat as the bankruptcy trustee for victims of Madoff sued them for $1 billion, saying the Mets owners were so heavily invested with him that they turned a blind eye to the massive fraud.