Wilpons confirm deal with Cohen fell through, still intend to sell team

The Wilpons confirmed their potential sale of the Mets was off the table Thursday night, but their search isn't over.

In a statement released by Mets ownership, they said, "The transaction between Sterling and Steve Cohen was a highly complicated one. Despite the efforts of the parties over the past several months it became apparent that the transaction as contemplated would have been to difficult to execute."

The statement went on to say that the Wilpons still intend to sell the team.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said talks ended over the proposed sale of a controlling share of the New York Mets from the families of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to hedge fund manager Steven Cohen earlier Thursday.

The Mets said Dec. 4 that the contemplated deal between Sterling Partners and Cohen would allow 83-year-old Fred Wilpon to remain as controlling owner and chief executive officer for five years.

Cohen commented on the situation to Newsday's Tim Healey Thursday, saying, "I gave it my best shot. I'm very disappointed we couldn't work out a deal. But as an 8% holder I'm looking forward to a higher bid for the team."

Cohen bought an 8% limited partnership stake in 2012 for $40 million. The deal under discussion would have seen him acquire an 80% controlling share in a transaction that values the team at $2.6 billion.

Cohen, 63, first bought into the Mets in 2012 when the team sought $20 million minority investment stakes following the collapse of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, which cost the Wilpons and their companies large amounts.

Doubleday & Co., a publisher, bought the Mets in 1980 from the family of founding owner Joan Payson for $21.1 million, with the company owning 95 percent of the team and Wilpon controlling 5 percent.

 

AP Wire Services contributed to this report.

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