Topps, after losing baseball license deal, ends IPO plans

Topps has been synonymous with collectible cards, especially baseball cards, for 70 years. Those days will soon be over. Major League ...


Topps has been synonymous with collectible cards, especially baseball cards, for 70 years.

Those days will soon be over. Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Player’s Association terminate their licensing agreement with Topps in favor of a deal with Fanatics, the growing sports collection brand. The loss of baseball rights also led to the abrupt cancellation on Friday of a plan to go public with Topps, putting its future in question.

The company, which also owns the Bazooka gum, announced a deal in April merge with a Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or SPAC, led by Mudrick Capital. The $ 1.3 billion merger was due to be put to a shareholder vote next week.

Topps and Mudrick announced Friday morning that the deal was canceled, the day after they were told baseball contracts would not be renewed when they expire in 2022 for player footage, which is monitored by the players’ union, and 2025 for team logos. , which are controlled by MLB

Topps has been owned by Tornante, the investment firm of former Walt Disney Company boss Michael Eisner, and private equity firm Madison Dearborn since 2007, when the two acquired it. for $ 385 million.

Fanatics, most recently valued at $ 18 billion, relies on its links with major sports league teams to extend beyond hats, hoodies and other branded items. In June, she launched a digital collectibles business called Candy Digital, which partnered with MLB to introduce a series of non-fungible tokens. Fanatics has also poached a number of executives from sports teams, gambling companies and tech companies as it plans to expand into ticketing, betting and gambling.

The baseball deal reflects Fanatics’ growth ambitions, moving into the baseball card market at a time when their popularity has skyrocketed, amid growing interest from home traders and digital investors buying cards. NFT.

The fanatics will create a new collectible card company and give both MLB and the players’ union board seats, said a person familiar with the plans who requested anonymity because the plans do not were not yet public. The union and MLB will get a stake in the company, a shift towards owning a part of the company that makes money from the images of its members rather than just firing those images. Sports unions have in recent years strengthened their trade weapons to help players earn more through their likeness.

With its new licensing deals, Fanatics could consider trying to acquire one of the top three card companies: Panini, Upper Deck or Topps, said a person familiar with the thinking of the company. This would reflect her strategy with the clothing company Majestic, which she acquired after winning the rights to make uniforms for the MLB that Majestic previously owned.

Kevin Draper and Ephrat Livni contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Topps, after losing baseball license deal, ends IPO plans
Topps, after losing baseball license deal, ends IPO plans
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