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Rob Manfred does not expect 'any governance issues' in Mets' ownership sale to Steve Cohen

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 12/12/2019 By Deesha Thosar, New York Daily News

SAN DIEGO — MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred couldn’t pinpoint exactly when Fred and Jeff Wilpon first notified the league they were exploring an ownership sale to hedge-fund billionaire Steve Cohen. But Manfred did indicate he’s been involved in that discussion for a while now.

“I can't tell you a date off the top of my head,” Manfred said. “A sale like this doesn't happen in 24 hours.”

The Mets announced last week that Cohen would increase his investment in the team and, as part of that agreement, Fred and Jeff Wilpon would remain in their current roles of CEO and COO, respectively, for the next five years.

Manfred revealed during the Winter Meetings on Wednesday that the Mets have been following protocol and ownership guidelines “to a tee.” He must be notified before they even market the team and be kept apprised as they make progress in that sale process.

“With respect to the Mets, I've been closely following the progress of this activity for a while,” Manfred said. “Steve Cohen and Fred Wilpon have known each other for a long time. Steve has been an element in the club for a long time.

“I do not expect that there will be any governance issues associated with the plan that they have in place for the transition of the Mets. It's a pretty standard-looking transaction in terms of path-to-control and transition,” he said.

Cohen bought an 8% stake of the Mets ownership in 2012. The Wilpons first turned to Cohen when they began seeking cash from minority investors after losing money in Bernie Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme.

The 63-year-old, who oversees hedge fund firm Point72 Asset Management and is reported by Forbes to have a fortune worth $13.6 billion, has a lot of influence and is expected to shake up the Mets’ current financial structure.

Cohen and his wife, Alexandra, have longtime ties to Omar Minaya, a top assistant to Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, well before he bought a stake in Mets ownership. Alexandra Cohen is from Washington Heights and her father was a huge Mets fan. Bobby Valentine, who managed the Mets from 1996-2002 and led them to a World Series berth in 2000 — is and was close to Cohen and Alexandra, too.

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