Fanatics acquires Topps buying and selling playing cards for $500 million

Topps’ 2016 season baseball cards will be displayed 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 Monday evening.

The terms of the deal weren’t available, but industry circles put the deal at around $ 500 million. It will only include Topps’ name and sports and entertainment division, not the company’s candy and gift card line, a source said.

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

The deal comes after Fanatics acquired Major League Baseball trading card rights last august. The MLB extended its contract with Topps in 2018 and the existing contract ends in 2025. But with this agreement Fanatics immediately receives the trading card rights from MLB.

Fanatics will also receive rights to Major League Soccer, UEFA, Bundesliga and Formula 1. These leagues also have active agreements with Topps.

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

Straight to the consumer model

Fanatics who reached one Valuation of $ 18 billion in 2021, wants to further expand the trading card business via direct-to-consumer commerce. For example, when collectors buy a trading card, they can insure, value, store, and even list the asset on a marketplace for sale or trade through Fanatics.

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

The Topps acquisition is also in line with Fanatics’ plans to expand its NFT collectibles sector through its Candy Digital company, which owns the exclusive rights to produce MLB digital artwork.

Last year, Topps was valued at $ 1.3 billion as part of a SPAC merger Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II, which fell apart after Topps lost his MLB rights.

Topps was a publicly traded company before it was privatized in 2007 after a $ 385 million deal. Founded in 1938, the company was best known for selling trading cards, including the 1952 Mickey Mantle card, one of which sold for $ 5.2 million in January 2021.