Wilpons’ Sterling Equities may sell stake in Mets team

January 28, 2011 01:30PM

Mets principal owner Sterling Equities is considering selling part of the team to “strategic partners” due to the financial uncertainty created by the lawsuit filed against them by the trustee in the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy case, the Post reported. Fred Wilpon, the team’s CEO, and his son Jeff Wilpon, the COO, said in a statement that they have hired investment bank Allen & Co. to explore alternatives, including adding one or more strategic partners. While Sterling Equities is working to settle the suit, it wants to “address the air of uncertainty created by this lawsuit, and to provide additional assurance that the New York Mets will continue to have the necessary resources to fully compete and win,” the statement said.

Regardless of the outcome of this exploration, Sterling will remain the principal ownership group of the Mets and will continue to control and manage the team’s operations, the statement said. In December, Irving Picard, the bankruptcy trustee trying to recover cash for Madoff’s victims, sued Sterling Equities, which was a big Madoff client, and in 2009, Picard filed papers claiming the Mets’ owners were “net winners” from the Madoff Ponzi scheme — they invested $523 million with Madoff and withdrew $571 million before the fraud was revealed Dec. 11, 2008. Sterling Equities has insisted it is a victim of Madoff’s $65 billion fraud scheme. [Post]