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Fanatics acquires Topps trading cards for $500 million

Topps’ baseball cards from the 2016 season on display during an event in New York City.
Kris Connor | Getty Images

Michael Rubin’s e-commerce company Fanatics has acquired Topps trading cards, sources close to the deal confirmed to CNBC on Monday night.

Terms of the agreement were not available, but industry sources put the deal at roughly $500 million. It will include only Topps’ name and sports and entertainment division, not the company’s candy and gift cards line, one source said.

Fanatics and Topps declined to provide comment but an announcement is expected on Tuesday.

The agreement comes after Fanatics captured Major League Baseball’s trading card rights last August. MLB renewed its deal with Topps in 2018, and the existing deal ends in 2025. But with this agreement, Fanatics will obtain MLB’s trading card rights immediately.

Fanatics will also obtain rights for Major League Soccer, UEFA, Bundesliga, and Formula 1. Those leagues also have active agreements with Topps.

And last year, Fanatics secured trading card licenses for the National Football League and National Basketball Association. To land these agreements, Fanatics provided equity to leagues and player unions that is guaranteed to bring at least $1 billion in revenue over the duration of the partnerships.

Direct to consumer model

Fanatics, which reached an $18 billion valuation in 2021, wants to expand the trading card business with more via direct-to-consumer commerce. For example, should collectors purchase a trading card, they’ll be able to insure the asset, grade, store and even put cards on a marketplace to sell or trade through Fanatics.

The company wants to capitalize on a sports trading card business that is projected to reach $98.7 billion by 2027, according to Verified Market Research.

Acquiring Topps also aligns with Fanatics’ plans to build out its NFT collectibles sector through its Candy Digital company, which has exclusive rights to produce MLB digital art work.

Last year, Topps was valued at $1.3 billion in a SPAC merger with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II, which fell apart after Topps lost its MLB rights.

Topps was a public company before being taken private following a $385 million deal in 2007. The company was founded in 1938 and became well known for its distribution of trading cards, including the 1952 Mickey Mantle card, one of which sold for $5.2 million in January 2021.

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