Steven Cohen, the billionaire investor trying to buy the Dodgers, is on the verge of becoming a minority owner in his hometown New York Mets.
The deal would not preclude Cohen from pursuing the Dodgers, according to two people familiar with the transaction but not authorized to discuss it.
Cohen has cleared a Major League Baseball investigation, the people said, which could bode well for his chances in the Dodgers sweepstakes. The league is more stringent in investigating majority owners than minority owners, but for now MLB has not found any grounds to disqualify Cohen from ownership.
Cohen, whose net worth is estimated at $8.3 billion by Forbes, is the founder of SAC Capital Advisors, a Connecticut-based investment firm. The company’s records have been subpoenaed as part of a broad federal investigation in which one current and two former SAC employees have been charged with insider trading.
No charges have been filed against Cohen or his company, which has said it is cooperating with the government probe.
Cohen is expected to spend $20 million on one of 10 shares offered for sale by the Mets’ cash-strapped owners. The Mets are expected to use the proceeds to repay a $40-million loan to Bank of America and a $25-million loan to MLB.
If Cohen were to buy the Dodgers, he would have to sell his stake in the Mets.
However, by helping the Mets and principal owner Fred Wilpon now, Cohen could be in a favorable position to buy the Mets outright if the team were put up for sale and the Dodgers were sold to another party.
The Mets lost $70 million last year and cut payroll by $52 million this year, and the owners face up to $386 million in potential liability related to the Bernie Madoff scandal, according to reports. The Mets tried unsuccessfully last year to raise $200 million from one investor, with Cohen among the parties to consider the offer.
Cohen was one of at least eight bidders selected last week to advance in the Dodgers’ ownership derby. In coming weeks, the remaining bidders are expected to meet with Dodgers executives and get additional financial data from the team in preparation for making a second bid.
The investment partnership led by former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire is not currently in the running, but the group could be considered if it can secure additional capital promptly, two parties familiar with the sale process said Wednesday.
Also, according to a court filing this week, the Dodgers’ parent company has spent $15.96 million in bankruptcy-related expenses.