The NY Post writes today
that a 4th bidder for the Mets may be emerging.
Former commodity trader Ray Bartoszek, teamed with private investor
Anthony Lanza, whose late father founded L-3 Communications and grew it
into a $15 billion New York City defense company, have met with the
Mets' owners in the last few days, according to two sources.
Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz since last fall have been seeking a minority
partner to inject $200 million in badly-needed operating cash into the
team. Recently just three groups were believed to be in the final mix.
The addition of a fourth group is good news for the team's owners, who
appear to be on pace this year to lose roughly $60 million compared to
$50 million last year.
The three existing bidders are: hedge
fund honcho Steve Cohen; a bidding group of Steve Starker and Ken
Dichter; and a group consisting of Anthony Scaramucci and
1-800-Flowers.com founder James McCann.
Bartoszek was a
managing director at Glencore International, which is reportedly is
planning a $10 billion initial public offering.
Meanwhile, Bill Madden of the NY Daily News has an interesting item about MLB's takeover of the Dodgers, speculating if the Mets could be next.
The big issue, of course, is just how does Selig's action with the
financially distressed Dodgers affect the likewise financially
distressed Mets? The answer to that undoubtedly lies in the Mets owners'
efforts to find an investor to pump some $200 million into the
operation, which presumably will enable them to refinance and start
paying down the estimated $300 million team debt, make their stadium
bond payments and cover all their operating costs, most notably payroll.
Selig's action with the Dodgers was precipitated by a $30 million
personal loan Dodger owner Frank McCourt arranged with Fox, the team's television
partner, last week, purportedly to make payroll. In order to secure the
loan, McCourt had to use as collateral the settlement he got in an
unrelated lawsuit in Boston, after Selig denied his request to use the team as
collateral for a $200 million loan from Fox.
Wednesday night, McCourt enlisted Sullivan & Cromwell, a
longstanding, prominent New York law firm, to sue MLB and Selig. A
veteran sports attorney speculated that McCourt will base his case on
the fact that he never asked MLB for a loan, unlike Mets owner Fred
WilponTexas Rangers owner Tom
Hicks. MLB did not move to take over the Mets or Rangers when they
came into similar financial distress. and former
Not surprisingly, McCourt's estranged wife, Jamie, checked in with a
statement, saying she "welcomed and supported the commissioner's actions
to provide the necessary transparency, guidance and direction" for the
Because of the Mets' massive team debt (much of it believed to be
accrued from their buyout of Nelson Doubleday's 50% of the team in August of 2002 for
$135million), the club's owners have also had payroll issues - as
recently as last November they received a $25million loan from MLB to
cover operating expenses. Before that, they were able to tap into their
accounts with convicted Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. But, as has been well-documented, those
accounts are all gone now.
No one - except the Mets owners themselves - knows how close they are to
being in the same precarious situation as McCourt. At least they are
able to sell a substantial part of the team to secure the necessary
capital to continue operating the Mets while they fight the $1 billion
lawsuit leveled against them by Madoff trustee Irving Picard. With the ownership of the Dodgers entangled
in the divorce case, McCourt can't even do that - which presumably is
what makes the Dodgers' situation more imminently critical for Selig.