David Einhorn sets goal for Mets deal

Updated: May 30, 2011, 8:37 PM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- David Einhorn hopes to complete his purchase of a minority stake in the New York Mets within weeks, and certainly by the end of June, the hedge-fund guru told reporters as the team took batting practice Monday afternoon at Citi Field.

"Hopefully in the next few weeks," Einhorn said on the field while wearing a Mets cap. "The goal is by the end of June. And there's a little bit of cushion in that. So if it goes smoothly, it could be a little quicker than that. But, on the other hand, there's a lot of people who have to sign off on it, so it could easily extend all the way until the end of the month."

Einhorn said the remaining hurdles are relatively insignificant.

"As best I can tell, I think we're down to very, very small issues -- and mostly documentations and approvals," he said.

ESPNNewYork.com, and subsequently other major news outlets, reported that Einhorn will pay $200 million for a 33 percent share of the team, according to sources. He then has an option to up his stake to 60 percent in three years.

However, principal owner Fred Wilpon and family can block that option by returning Einhorn's $200 million. Einhorn still would be able to keep a minority share at that point, which a source labeled one-sixth ownership.

Einhorn declined to comment about the terms beyond saying: "I can't disclose terms, as per the agreement. It just wouldn't be the right thing to do. But let me just say this: When the agreement first came out, when the discussion of it first came out, there was a lot of reaction that this was a very one-sided agreement in favor of the Wilpons. Now, as other stuff, much of which is not correct, has come out, there's a lot who view that the agreement is very one-sided in favor of me. Both of those characterizations are wrong.

"This agreement, I think, is a fair agreement. It's a win-win agreement. It covers a lot of the basic goals I was hoping to achieve in the negotiations. I think it achieved a lot of the basic goals that the Wilpons were trying to achieve in the negotiations. And it sets us on a path to a very good partnership going forward."

Pressed if he could increase his stake in the team at some point, Einhorn said: "I'm not going to give any confirmation -- one way or another -- on any of the specific terms of the agreement. It would just violate the confidentiality that we have in place. I can't do that."

Much of Einhorn's $200 million infusion will go directly to the Mets' debt.

Asked if Mets fans could be confident with the transaction that the organization would not continue a slow slide into financial ruin, Einhorn said he could offer no such assurance.

Having made a fortune in hedge funds, Einhorn similarly could benefit from the Wilpons' continued financial distress by using it as a vehicle to take over majority ownership in three years -- or at some point in the future.

"I can't make any such assurance," Einhorn said about his arrival halting the organization's financial slide. "It'll be what it'll be. It's not that people aren't going to try really hard to avoid that sort of a circumstance, but the future is uncertain. And there is a wide range of possible outcomes of all sorts of things. That's true in life in general. And it's true in this circumstance as well."

Einhorn did not want to comment about the team's play. Fred Wilpon had criticized the team's stars in a New Yorker article published last week.

"I don't have anything to say about the team at this point," Einhorn said. "I just don't think it would be the right thing to do."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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