Citigroup Inc., eager to quell the controversy over how lenders are using government bailout money, is exploring the possibility of backing out of a nearly $400 million marketing deal with the New York Mets, say people familiar with the matter.
Officials at Citigroup have made no final decision about whether to try to void the 20-year agreement, which includes naming the Mets’ new baseball stadium after the bank, say these people.
In a statement Monday, Citigroup said that “no TARP capital will be used” for the stadium — referring to government funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But as it revisits the pact, Citigroup is essentially acknowledging that the volatile political climate could make it untenable for the bank to proceed with the deal.
I’d be curious to see what kind of rights the Mets have under the marketing agreement. I presume that there is some sort of opt-out/buyout provision that would head off any lawsuits. But then again, if reasonable people were involved in all of this, the whole deal never would have happened in the first place.