Topps was hoping for a buyer to emerge last winter, essentially taking bids from interested parties as interest in its products soared. That’s according to a story in the New York Post.
Quoting unnamed “insiders”, the Post also says Chairman Michael Eisner dismissed concerns about potential challengers for the company’s MLB trading card license.
“He was convinced they would not lose their contract,” the Post quoted a source with knowledge of the matter, who also indicated Eisner was only anticipating an increase in the cost of the license.
The uncertainty of the MLB license beyond the next couple of years apparently scared off at least one prospective bidder.
Eisner’s Tornante investment group partnered with private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners to buy Topps in 2007 and the Post reported that while Eisner wanted to invest more money in Topps, Madison Dearborn was reluctant to do so.
“The Topps management team said there was a lot we can do to grow the business but we don’t have the capital to do it,” a financial analyst told the newspaper. “That probably left an opening.”
Fanatics took advantage, reportedly cutting a partnership revenue sharing deal with MLB and its players while successfully negotiating similar deals with the NBA and its players and the NFLPA so far. No formal announcements on those agreements have been announced yet, however.
Topps acquired MLB’s exclusive license in 2009 and the deal had been renewed on multiple occasions since then, but the current agreement will expire after 2025.