Plan B for the Mets: multiple, smaller investors

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With their $200 million cash infusion from David Einhorn scuttled, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz are taking a different tack.  Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson report that they’re looking into selling smaller stakes “to people willing to invest perhaps $20 million each.” Hurm.

Being a minority investor in a closely-held corporation is not great to begin with. You have no control, really. It’s the sort of thing that, as the Einhorn negotiations showed, would almost compel you to want to (a) have some mechanism to make it a REALLY great investment on its own terms, such as you getting most of your money back later; or (b) have some mechanism by which your minority share could be transformed into a controlling interest at some later date.

But now Wilpon and Katz are basically looking for vanity investors. People who want to be able to say “I own a piece of the Mets.”  As the Times story notes, it’s often the case that “such investors simply want the perks of ownership, like access to suites and the team’s players. Most of these investors do not have ambitions of being majority owners.”

It may be easier to find those kinds of investors, but getting them together, making sure they pay — and continue to pay later when losses need to be covered — and then managing the suddenly-larger ownership group is probably something of a headache.