Mets Potential Buyer Under Federal Investigation

Earlier today, it was reported that hedge fund giant Steve Cohen of Stamford-based SAC Capital Advisors, is the frontrunner to buy a stake in the New York Mets.

From The New York Post:

The billionaire money man is the frontrunner to buy a minority stake in the money-losing team and was set to meet last night with the Mets owners at 8 pm at Gabriele’s Steak House in his hometown of Greenwich, Conn., to discuss the potential deal, two sources said.

Mets’ owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz over the last several days have winnowed down the four final suitors and are believed to be set to name Cohen the leading and preferred bidder, the sources said.

“Cohen wants it,” a source familiar with his thinking said. “What he wants he gets. It’s a trophy to him but not just a trophy. In time, it can be a real asset.”

Not sure how that’s going to go over with Bud Selig, since other news that came out simultaneously is that Cohen is being targeted by the Feds as part of an insider trading investigation. From the Wall Street Journal:

The criminal trial involving Galleon Group head Raj Rajaratnam indeed deserves the moniker it’s been given: the insider-trading trial of the decade.

But a criminal trial involving SAC Capital’s Steve Cohen, now, well, we’d have to dig a little deeper to figure out a name for that one. The Insider-Trading Trial of a Generation? The Insider-Trading Trial of the Quarter-Century?

Right now, no official accusations have been filed, so a trial — if any — wouldn’t take place for quite a while. But if the information from two former SAC Capital fund managers — both of whom have been found guilty of insider trading themselves — is legitimate, it sounds pretty bad. Also from WSJ:

At issue is trading in a $3 billion stock portfolio personally overseen by Cohen at SAC Capital Advisors and referred to by the government in the filings as the “Cohen Account” and internally at SAC as “The Big Book.”

SAC portfolio managers funnel their best trading ideas to Cohen for this account and are paid a bonus if they generate big returns for Cohen, according to people familiar with the matter.

As part of the broad insider-trading probe, the U.S. is examining trades in the Cohen Account suggested by the two former portfolio managers, Noah Freeman and Donald Longueuil. Both Freeman and Longueuil have pleaded guilty to securities-fraud charges for trading on inside information. Among prosecutors’ evidence, they said in documents filed in a New York federal court, were records of trades suggested by Messrs. Freeman and Longueuil “into the Cohen Account.”

I have no idea whether a case like this could affect Cohen’s ability to provide cash flow to the Mets. But it’s bad enough that the Wilpons are in the Madoff mess; one would hope that the Mets would try to avoid partnering with someone who is involved in a similarly high-profile financial case. After all, it would be nice if we could spend more time focusing on the “product on the field”.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.