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01/04/2022

Fanatics acquires Topps trading cards, collectibles for reported $500 million

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Fanatics has acquired Topps’ sports and entertainment division, including its trading cards and collectibles business.

The iconic company that had been synonymous with baseball trading cards for more than 70 years has a new owner.

Global sports licensing and online merchandise retailer Fanatics has acquired Topps’ sports and entertainment division. The deal, whose terms were not revealed but which industry sources put at some $500 million, includes Topps’ name and all parts of its worldwide trading cards and collectibles business — both the physical and digital divisions — which sells in more than 100 countries and has physical operations in 10 countries, including the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Italy and Japan.

In August, Fanatics raised $325 million from new and existing investors, with the new investors including hip-hop and entertainment mogul Jay Z. The latest round of funding valued the company at $18 billion.

“With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business,” said Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin. “Their iconic brand, commitment to product excellence and passionate employees worldwide will allow us to immediately serve our league and players’ association partners and our fans.”

The addition of Topps will significantly accelerate the buildout of Fanatics Trading Cards, which the company launched in 2021 after it secured exclusive, long-term trading cards rights from several of the leading professional sports leagues and players associations, including one of Topps’ most important clients, the Major League Baseball (MLB). Fanatics also secured rights to the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and National Football League Players Association (NFLPA).

The deal means that Fanatics Trading Cards’ MLB and MLBPA rights to design, manufacture and distribute trading cards will begin immediately versus the original combined start date of 2026.

Topps has been owned by Tornante, the investment firm owned by former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner, and private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners since 2007. The two firms will continue to own and operate Topps’s remaining business, which include Bazooka gum and gift cards. It will now be called Bazooka Companies.

“The strong emotional connection between Topps collectibles and consumers of all ages – built through 70 years of tradition, starting with the Shorin family – will make it a jewel in the Fanatics portfolio,” stated Eisner. “Michael Rubin is the perfect entrepreneur to lead this company forward. Like any crown jewel, I and my partners at Madison Dearborn will miss our many years of ownership where we grew a highly profitable business through strategic licensing partnerships, global expansion, and digital transformation.”

All of Topps’ approximately 350 global sports and entertainment employees will become part of Fanatics Trading Cards. David Leiner, Topps global VP, GM, and Tobin Lent, VP, GM digital, will continue to run Topps within Fanatics Trading Cards, a separate subsidiary of Fanatics.

[Read More: Nordstrom to expand in entirely new category via deal with Fanatics]