New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that city lawyers had cleared billionaire hedge fund magnate Steve Cohen’s purchase of the New York Mets, quelling fears that he could block the transaction from moving forward.
“The New York City Law Department has completed its legal review of the proposed sale of the @Mets,” de Blasio tweeted on Friday. “New York City has no objections and the Mets can now proceed with the transaction. #LGM”
The mayor’s office had the authority to approve or reject the team’s sale to Cohen because Citi Field, the Mets’ home stadium, is located on public land. The lease agreement includes a clause that prevents any individual convicted of a felony from owning a team.
Cohen, who has a personal net worth of $14.6 billion, was hit with civil penalties after his former hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, was found guilty of insider trading in 2013. The billionaire was never charged with a crime.
As Cohen’s purchase of the Mets moved toward completion, the New York Post reported de Blasio’s office had called MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred to tell him he “opposed the idea of a hedge-fund billionaire buying a local team.” A spokesperson for the mayor confirmed the call took place but denied de Blasio was attempting to quash the deal.
“The NYC Law Dept. is doing their due diligence of examining a new lease on incredibly valuable city-owned land,” the spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
MLB owners approved Cohen’s deal to buy the Mets on Friday. The transaction is said to value the franchise at up to $2.5 billion.