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Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen to buy New York Mets

Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has agreed to buy the New York Mets from the Wilpon and Katz families.

The team announced the agreement on Monday. The deal is subject to the approval of Major League Baseball owners.

Sportico reported Cohen will own 95% of the team, with the rest staying with the Wilpon and Katz families. The deal reportedly values the franchise at about $2.4 billion.

Former major league star Alex Rodriguez and fiancee Jennifer Lopez also attempted to buy the team, but they dropped out of the bidding last month.

"I am excited to have reached an agreement with the Wilpon and Katz families to purchase the New York Mets," Cohen said in a statement.

Cohen also entered negotiations to buy the Mets last year, but the deal fell apart in February. He bought an 8% limited partnership stake in 2012 for $40 million. The deal that failed to close would have seen him acquire an 80% controlling share in a transaction that valued the team at $2.6 billion.

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The current Mets ownership group is headed by Fred Wilpon, brother-in-law Saul Katz and Wilpon's son Jeff, the team's chief operating officer.

Lifelong Mets fan 

Cohen was born and raised in a well-to-do village on Long Island that is 15 miles from Citi Field, the current home field of the Mets. He watched his team's first home game when the club played in Manhattan at the Polo Grounds, and grew up as a lifelong fan.

The Mets eventually moved to Flushing Meadows and played home games at Shea Stadium, where Cohen continued to watch in the 1960s and 1970s. But it wasn't until decades later that Cohen made an effort to buy the team he grew up rooting for. 

Cohen first bought into the Mets when the team sought $20 million minority investment stakes following the collapse of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, which heavily cost the Wilpons and their companies. The limited partnership shares were sold after a proposed $200 million sale of a stake of the Mets to hedge fund manager David Einhorn fell through in 2011. One year later, Cohen bought a 4% share of the Mets for $20 million and has kept that share ever since. 

SAC Capital

The 64-year-old Cohen is CEO and president hedge fund Point72 Asset Management, which was formed after his previous firm SAC Capital was convicted on insider trading, paid a $1.8 billion fine and had to close. While Cohen personally was never convicted of a crime, he agreed to a temporary ban from managing clients' money by the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

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

When Doubleday & Co. was sold to the media company Bertelsmann AG in 1986, the publisher sold its shares of the team for nearly $81 million to Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday, who became 50-50 owners.

Wilpon led a buyout of Doubleday's shares in 2002 and became chairman and sole controlling owner. Katz, the owner's brother-in-law and partner in the real estate firm Sterling Equities Inc., became team president and Jeff Wilpon became COO.

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