Wilpons negotiating to sell controlling stake in Mets to hedge fund manager

Steve Cohen, a billionaire who owns a small percentage of the New York Mets, is negotiating an agreement to increase his investment, a move that could signal that Fred and Jeff Wilpon's longtime control of the franchise will be over within five years.

Sterling Partners, the company that runs the Mets, and Cohen released a statement on Wednesday, confirming the talks. The announcement said that as part of the agreement "Fred Wilpon will remain in the role of the Control Person and CEO for five years and Jeff Wilpon will remain in his role of Chief Operating Officer for the five-year period as well."

Bloomberg reported that Cohen is in talks to acquire up to 80% of the team, which would be valued at $2.6 billion.

Cohen, an investor and hedge fund manager worth an estimated $13 billion, bought a 4% share of the Mets in 2012 for $20 million. At the time, Cohen was also bidding to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cohen, 63, a native of Great Neck, New York, is chief executive officer of Point72 Asset Management.

In 2013, Cohen's former firm, SAC Capital, pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and paid a record $1.8 billion penalty. Cohen was accused of failing to adequately oversee an employee and was not personally fined.

The Wilpons have been majority owners of the team since 2002, when they bought out Nelson Doubleday for $135 million. Wilson and Doubleday had bought the team from former owner Joan Payson in 1980 for $21 million.

The Mets have been to the playoffs just three times under the Wilpons, in 2006, 2015 and 2016. They lost to the Kansas City Royals in the 2015 World Series.