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Einhorn may become majority owner of Mets: reports

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager David Einhorn, who is in talks to buy a large minority stake in the New York Mets, could become a principal owner of the baseball team in three years, the New York Times and ESPNNewYork.com reported on Saturday.

For a $200 million investment, Einhorn, the president of Greenlight Capital, is expected to receive a one-third share of the cash-strapped team.

He would have the option of raising his stake to 60 percent after three years, the Times said, citing "a person with direct knowledge of the negotiations."

Such a move would end decades-long control of the team by the Wilpon family, including current principal owner Fred Wilpon.

The family could retain control of the Mets after three years by repaying Einhorn his investment, but he would retain his one-third stake, the Times said.

Wilpon told Sports Illustrated this month that the Mets were "bleeding cash" and could lose $70 million this year.

The team's principal owners also face a $1 billion lawsuit by Irving Picard, the trustee seeking money for victims of Bernard Madoff, to recover "fictitious profits" and principal from their dealings with the now imprisoned Ponzi schemer.

If a deal with Einhorn were completed, the 42-year-old investor and competitive poker player would follow Philip Falcone, John Henry and James Pallotta among well-known hedge fund managers to invest in professional sports teams.

Despite having one of the biggest payrolls in baseball, the Mets remain in the shadow of the New York Yankees, and have not won a World Series since 1986. The Mets have had two straight losing seasons and have seen attendance drop sharply.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Paul Simao)

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