Hedge fund manager David Einhorn today announced that he has agreed to acquire a minority stake in the woeful New York Mets for $200 million. He’s holding a press call at 11:30 to discuss the deal — can you short a baseball team, outside of Vegas? — and I’ll be live-blogging below (just keep hitting refresh):
* We’ve just got music so far…
* Ok, here we go. Einhorn will begin with some remarks.
* Being told Einhorn will not discuss any terms of this transaction (beyond what we’ve already been told?), nor will be discuss the Madoff litigation.
* “Exciting beyond my wildest dreams…” Notes that he dressed as a Mets player (David Kingman) for Halloween as a kid.
* Ok, Q&A beginning. He declines to answer on whether or not he has an option to buy a greater stake.
* Investment has not yet been formally made yet. Subject to regulatory approval from MLB.
* Einhorn basically saying nothing. Gets asked if he’ll be involved at all in baseball operations, but declines to say.
* Gets asked if team needs to be “managed better.” He claims to not understand question, pointing out that he’s making a minority investment. Reporter follows up, pointing out that majority owner Wilpon said team will lose $70 million this year. Einhorn says he’s not “in position to comment on the financials.” He’s not. Isn’t that exactly the position he’s now in?
* Einhorn reiterates that this is a vanity play. “This will be a fantastic life experience for me.”
* Background for deal: Einhorn read newspaper story in January that team wanted to sell minority interest. Called team’s investment bankers, and began process from there.
* “Vast majority of investing we do at Greenlight is on the long-side… the perception out there is what it is.”
* I kind of feel bad for the guy. This has got to be a very exciting moment — buying into your childhood love — and reporters are basically crapping all over it because it’s the Mets. Were he buying into a team outside of New York — or one that has performed better of late — he’d be getting many more atta boys.
* “I think the reason no one knew we were involved up until now is because we didn’t tell anybody.”
* Shouldn’t Fred Wilpon be on this call? Or is his foot still stuck too far down his throat from last week?
* “I’m not really interested in owning a TV station. My excitement here is being involved with the baseball team.”
* Why announce now, given that it’s not complete? Einhorn kind of punts the question, but sounds like he was concerned it was about to leak.
* Can Mets fans expect to regularly hear from Einhorn? “The Wilpons remain in control of the team, and that’s the way everyone should view it.”
* Gets asked if/when he’ll get to throw out first pitch, and if he’ll be nervous. Einhorn laughs, says details are still in flux.
* “If [Mets GM] Sandy Alderson wasn’t running a baseball team, I can think of a lot of other companies he could be running.”
* Everyone wants Einhorn to slam Wilpon, but that just is not going to happen on this call (of course Wilpon deserves a tongue-lashing, but it isn’t going to come from a guy who’s still negotiating to buy a minority ownership stake).
* Einhorn/Greenlight do not own any of the $547 million of bonds sold to build the new stadium.
* “I expect to be involved with this for a very long time.”
* Dear fellow reporters: What part of “we will not discuss terms of this transaction” do you not understand?
* “Can’t say I have any particular area of concern” about team’s financial situation, which he “expects will improve over time.”
* Einhorn’s moved to Milwaukee from New York as a kid, and his best friend was Bud Selig’s next-door neighbor growing up. Balls hit into the Selig’s yard were considered home-runs.
* Ok, that’s all she wrote. Thanks for reading along…