- MLB and MLBPA ended 70-year Topps partnership to team up with Fanatics
- Topps, which has licensing agreements with Uefa, Bundesliga and F1, saw SPAC merger collapse last year
- Fanatics’ trading card business was valued at US$10.4bn in 2021
US licensed sports merchandise company Fanatics has confirmed its acquisition of trading card company Topps.
The deal, which is worth US$500 million according to multiple reports, sees Fanatics gain Topps’ licensing rights for both physical trading cards and its digital non-fungible tokens (NFTs) equivalent business.
The move has been mooted since August 2021 when Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players Association (MBLPA) ended their 70-year partnership with Topps to team up with Fanatics as their exclusive licensing partner for trading cards. That deal also saw Fanatics’ digital collectibles arm Candy Digital obtain exclusive rights to produce MLB NFTs.
The move led to the collapse of Topps’ plans to go public through a merger with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corporation II, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a deal that would have valued the trading card firm at US$1.3 billion.
With Topps still MLB’s trading card partner until 2025, the acquisition by Fanatics will see it take over that partnership immediately.
The deal adds to Fanatics’ growing portfolio of trading card licensing rights, with Topps’ current roster of partners including Uefa, the Bundesliga, Major League Soccer (MLS) and Formula One.
As Fanatics sought to expand its trading card business in 2021, it also agreed deals with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). Those deals reportedly saw Fanatics provide equity to the leagues and players unions that guaranteed at least US$1 billion in revenue over the duration of the partnerships.
Last year, Fanatics’ new trading card venture received a valuation of US$10.4 billion after raising US$350 million in Series A funding. The wider company was valued at US$18 billion in August following a US$325 million funding round and a reorganisation of its business with further new ventures into areas such as sports betting.
“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 Michael Rubin, chief executive of Fanatics.
“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.”