The infield of Citi Field, the baseball stadium for the New York Mets. (Photographer: Paul Goguen/Bloomberg News)

Mets Shares Are Said to Be for Sale Six Years After Madoff Fraud

(Bloomberg) -- Wealthy Mets fans who have ever dreamed of owning a piece of New York’s National League baseball team are about to get their chance.

Six years ago, when team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were being sued by the trustee representing Bernie Madoff’s victims, they sold a dozen four-percent shares of the team to raise cash. Some of those investors now plan to sell their shares, according to people familiar with the matter.

The people requested anonymity because the matter is private. The Mets declined to comment.

In 2012, the Mets sold the parcels for $20 million each. The owners ended up settling the lawsuit for $162 million. Some of the cash raised from investors was used to repay loans, cover operating expenses and reduce debt.

According to the terms of the original sales, the new investors were guaranteed 3 percent interest, compounded annually, for six years. The investors had no control over the team, but they were exempt from capital calls during that time.

They also received some inventive perks, including access to Mr. Met, the team’s mascot, and a formal business card with the “owner” designation. They were also given a parking spot and one day to play on the field when the team was away.

Wilpon and Katz are entitled to buy any offered shares at their full value but are unlikely to do so, according to the people. Forbes says the team is worth $2.1 billion, which would value the minority stakes at more than $80 million each. Limited partnerships without operational control or board seats are often sold far below their appraised value.

The people didn’t disclose which investors are selling or how much of the stakes will be available. Some of the $20 million stakes included multiple investors.

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