Some Buyers Scared Off by Mets' Finances
At the midtown offices of the investment firm Allen & Co. Wednesday, some prospective bidders for a minority stake in the New York Mets will get a glimpse of the team’s financial records.
But the baseball franchise's precarious economic position has already turned off some of the interested parties, say people who considered vying for the proposed 25 percent stake in the Mets but opted not to move forward.
A Mets spokesman referred a request for comment to Steven Greenberg, the Allen banker representing the team. Greenberg didn’t return a call for comment.
It’s no secret that the Mets are deeply indebted and operating at a loss. Late last year, in fact, the team accepted an emergency $25 million loan from Major League Baseball to help meet its immediate obligations. But according to new figures compiled by Forbes that provide a window into what potential bidders are likely seeing, the team’s valuation has also fallen by double digits year over year amid falling attendance numbers.
The Mets are now worth about $747 million, estimates Forbes, down 13 percent from last year, during which the team sustained an operating loss of $6.2 million.
That may not be enough to dissuade some of the team’s die-hard and deep-pocketed fans.
However, those that push forward with potential bids are likely to have stiff demands, say some participants in the discussions, ranging from competitive prices and a voice in management to the possibility of a stake in SNY, the television network majority-owned by the Mets, and immunity from the nasty $1 billion lawsuit now facing the Mets owners as a result of their investments with the reviled former money manager Bernie Madoff.
The list of possible investors includes some prominent names from both Wall Street and sports and entertainment.
Goldman Sachs securities co-head David Heller and Apollo Global Management president Marc Spilker, both lifelong Mets fans and former coworkers at Goldman, are among the potential bidders who have reviewed the team’s records and continue to be interested, say people familiar with the matter.
Steven Starker, co-founder of the trading firm BTIG, is reportedly leading a group of would-be investors that includes the creator of the Hollywood parody “Entourage,” Doug Ellin. And Anthony Scaramucci, founder of the investment firm SkyBridge Capital, is also part of a prospective investment consortium that includes former Mets team manager Bobby Valentine, according to published reports.
Heller referred a request for comment to a spokesman, Starker could not immediately be reached for comment, and Scaramucci and Ellin did not respond to requests for comment.
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