NEW YORK, May 26 (Reuters) – Hedge fund manager David Einhorn is playing ball with the New York Mets and on the verge of buying a minority stake in the cash-strapped Major League baseball team for $200 million.
Einhorn, the manager of Greenlight Capital, is in “exclusive” talks with Mets ownership led by real estate developer Fred Wilpon, both sides confirmed.
The news of Einhorn’s negotiations with the Mets owner Fred Wilpon was first reported by ESPN. It is believed that Einhorn will make his investment alone.
The Mets have been looking for a minority owner because the team is losing money and Wilpon is being sued by the trustee in the Bernard Madoff case.
The Madoff trustee is seeking to claw back some $1 billion in “fictitious profits” the Wilpon family and their business partners are said to have made from investing with Madoff. The mastermind behind of the biggest Ponzi schemes pleaded guilty in 2009 and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.
The Wilpons have been searing for a minority investors for several months and other hedge fund managers had emerged as potential buyers. For a time, it appeared the Wilpons were close to reaching a deal with SAC Capital Advisors founder Steven Cohen.
Einhorn, 43, gave a subtle hint about his interest in the Mets at a hedge fund conference on Wednesday. He shouted out “Let’s Go Mets!” at the end of his presentation at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference in Manhattan.
The manager, best known for his “short” call on Lehman Brothers at the start of the financial crisis, did not offer explanation for his cheer. During the conference he called on the board of software giant Microsoft to oust CEO Steven Ballmer.
(Reported by Jennifer Ablan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)