Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez continue to try to improve their offer to buy the Mets. But is the game over — or not? Because according to two sources the Wilpons are not listening to the latest pitch.
The Mets are still in exclusive sales talks with hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen and that is not likely to change, sources said. That is unless Cohen seeks to lower or change his $2.35 billion offer at the last moment, sources said.
“Now Cohen has very little leverage,” a source said, of Cohen who is known for pushing hard in final negotiations.
The Lopez/Rodriguez consortium made a bid commensurate to the $2.35 billion of Cohen. And as The Post first reported, Lopez was designated as the control person, which was designed to make the offer more appealing than having the polarizing Rodriguez as the control person. The hope is by making Lopez the first Latina to be the control person of a major league team it would make it easier to get the necessary three-quarters approval from the 30 owners.
The now J-Lo led group is also offering the Mets a $200 million break-up fee if it gains exclusive bidding rights and then do not get approved by MLB, sources said.
It is yet another attempt by this group to show its seriousness about closing a deal if put in position to do so — or else it would forfeit the $200 million.
But “the Mets made up their mind to go with Steve unless Steve tries to pull something,” the second source close to the situation said.
Still, the Lopez/Rodriguez group has planted with MLB owners that there is an alternative should they not approve Cohen. In 2013, Cohen’s hedge fund agreed to settle a government investigation into insider trading by paying $1.8 billion.
That, plus Cohen’s company is being sued for gender discrimination, could give pause to owners to pivot away from him, the sources said.
The Mets had been up for auction with a deadline of Aug. 31. But in the days before that, multiple sources have told The Post, the A-Rod-led group tried to enter into exclusive negotiations for the team. When that did not occur, one of the negotiators for J-Lo/A-Rod pulled the group out of the process, sources said. Concerned Lopez/Rodriguez would go to the media with that decision, which would lead to Cohen lowering his bid, the Mets turned exclusively to Cohen at that point, sources said.
The next day the Rodriguez/Lopez group attempted to re-enter the process by sending all necessary documentation. Marc Lore, a senior executive at Walmart, has become a prominent part of the group and was believed to be the top investor at about $250 million. Rodriguez was said to be at around $200 million.
The Lopez/Rodriguez group also expressed concern that the end game was an unfair process, with Cohen gaining the exclusivity that had eluded them.
They point to Allen & Co. banker Steve Greenberg, who ran the auction. Greenberg, the former MLB deputy commissioner, formerly advised Cohen when he unsuccessfully bid for the Dodgers and the A-Rod team believes that as a sell-side banker he favored his former client.
It’s the sale of a private company, however, and there is no recourse, one of the sources who is sympathetic to the J-Lo group, said.