Madoff and the Mets: Wilpons Continue to Pursue Sales of Minority Mets Interests While Court Rulings and Trial Dates Approach – Installment 69

February 6, 2012Articles White Collar Defense & Compliance Blog

This posting will focus on the implications of recent postings on ESPN.com regarding multiple events that are occurring with respect to the continuing economic and legal challenges facing the New York Mets and their owners in the Madoff aftermath. While most journalists are focusing on the March 19, 2012 date for the scheduled commencement of the Wilpons-Katz-Mets jury trial in their litigation against Madoff Trustee Irving Picard, Andrew Marchand recently discussed the earlier significant February 16 and 23 motion dates that can be crucial in either terminating the litigation in Federal District Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s court room or setting the stage for the issues to be addressed in a later jury trial.

More recently, Adam Rubin has published several postings about the often-alleged continuing efforts of the Wilpon/Katz group to sell for $20 million each, up to 10 minority 4% pieces of the Mets (the “Minority Sales”). His January 31 posting highlights the delay that has developed for such potential Minority Sales until the end of February.

It is not surprising that there is a further delay in sales of Minority Interests. Installment 58 of this blog series described the potential under certain circumstances for Picard to upset such sales before or after they take place.

Potential buyers of Minority Interests would appear to be waiting before committing any funds at least until the outcome of the Wilpon-Katz summary judgment motion and the Picard partial summary judgment motion to be considered in late February by Judge Rakoff. The outcome of those cross-motions could, although unlikely, end the matter completely on Judge Rakoff's playing field. However, it is more likely that, whatever disposition Judge Rakoff makes of the cross-motions, the potential sales of Minority Interests, if any, could be further delayed by a jury trial in Judge Rakoff's court commencing on March 19 or an almost certain appeal by Picard to the Second Circuit should the Wilpon-Katz motion for summary judgment be granted.

In fact, the Minority Sales could be delayed indefinitely by the concerns of cautious lawyers for the potential buyers about the pricing of the Minority Interests that theoretically give the Mets a total value of $500 million. If such value can be found to be inadequate under some credible valuation standard, as discussed in Installment 58, Picard could possibly attack the sales price under New York law as inadequate.

While time is clearly not on the side of the Mets and their owners, sales of Minority Interests continue to progress in their knuckleball style.

[To be continued in Installment 70]