NEW YORK (Reuters)—Hedge fund manager David Einhorn is playing ball with the New York Mets and on the verge of buying a minority stake in the cash-strapped Major League Baseball team for $200 million.
Einhorn, the manager of Greenlight Capital, is in exclusive talks with Mets ownership led by real estate developer Fred Wilpon, both sides confirmed.
If a deal with Einhorn is completed, the 42-year-old trader and competitive poker player is following in the footsteps of John Henry, James Pallotta and Philip Falcone--other well-known hedge fund managers who have invested in professional sports teams.
Einhorn, who is holding a press conference on Thursday to discuss the investment in the Mets, is committing his own money to the deal. The hedge fund manager, who is married and has three young children, says he is a lifelong baseball fan and long-time Mets fan.
In recent years his Greenlight Capital, with $7.8 billion in assets under management, has emerged as one of the more influential hedge fund firms. He's best-known for his "short" call on Lehman Brothers at the start of the financial crisis and a long-running battle with the management of Allied Capital (AFC.N).
The Mets have been looking for a minority owner because the team is losing money and Wilpon is being sued by the trustee in the Bernard Madoff case.
The Madoff trustee is seeking to claw back some $1 billion in "fictitious profits" the Wilpon family and their business partners are said to have made from investing with Madoff. The mastermind behind one of the biggest Ponzi schemes pleaded guilty in 2009 and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.
The Wilpons have been searching for minority investors for several months and other hedge fund managers had emerged as potential buyers. For a time, it appeared the Wilpons were close to reaching a deal with SAC Capital Advisors founder Steven Cohen.
Einhorn gave a subtle hint about his interest in the Mets at a hedge fund conference on Wednesday. He shouted out "Let's Go Mets!" at the end of his presentation at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference in Manhattan.
The manager did not offer explanation for his cheer. During the conference he called on the board of software giant Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) to oust CEO Steven Ballmer.
News of Einhorn's negotiations with Wilpon was first reported by ESPN. (Reported by Jennifer Ablan, editing by Dave Zimmerman)