(Bloomberg) —Fanatics Inc. has acquired the trading card division of Topps Co., swallowing up its rival only months after luring away its longtime client Major League Baseball.
Topps, co-owned by former Walt Disney Co. boss Michael Eisner, is selling its cards and entertainment division but will keep other businesses such as candy and gift cards. About 350 Topps employees will join Fanatics as part of the arrangement, with its top executives remaining in charge of Topps within the Fanatics trading card business, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.
Terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed. A person familiar with the matter said the acquisition price was about $500 million, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Fanatics Inc. is No. 36 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000. Topps is No. 1036 the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Next 1000, with 2020 web sales just shy of $30 million, according to Digital Commerce 360 research estimates.
“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,” Fanatics Chief Executive Michael Rubin said in the statement.
A deal for Topps cements Fanatics’ aggressive move over the past year into trading cards from its roots in sports apparel and other collectibles. Topps had planned to go public early last year through a merger, but the loss of the MLB contract to Fanatics derailed the move.
Fanatics Trading Cards will take over as the licensee for MLB cards years earlier than planned. The company, which is controlled by Fanatics Inc. but has outside investors, was valued at $10.4 billion in a funding round in September. It also has deals with the players’ unions of the National Basketball Association and the National Football League.
Rubin has been swiftly creating a sports empire around the company, with plans to get into adjacent sectors such as online gambling, ticketing and media. Sports collectibles have surged in value and popularity over the past year along with non-fungible tokens, sneakers and other alternative asset classes.