Sports Collectors Daily

Topps Pondering Company Split, Sale?

The private equity owners of The Topps Company are looking at options for selling to a new buyer, according to a Bloomberg report.

The story, published early Monday evening quoted sources “with knowledge of the matter” as saying executives have been meeting with bankers about “strategic options” for Topps, which was founded in 1938.

According to Bloomberg’s source, one option is to split the company’s trading card and candy businesses.  Bazooka Candy Brands is the confectionery division of Topps and believed to provide the majority of Topps’ revenue.  Whether that happens, however, is far from certain.  The value of the company is about $400 million, according to Bloomberg.

Topps was once a publicly traded company, but dissatisfied shareholders fought to take the company private.  Upper Deck, which held multiple major sports trading card licenses at the time, even made an offer but in September of 2007, Michael Eisner’s Tornante Co. and Madison Dearborn Partners LLC acquired the company for $385 million.  Only about 53.4% of Topps’ shareholders approved the deal but it was enough for the transaction to take place.

Two years ago, Manhattan-based Topps bolstered its bottom line with the launch of its on-demand NOW platform in which cards can be created, sold and delivered to customers within days.  However, its digital trading card/gaming apps have experienced growth issues in spite of a major expansion in Orlando, FL.  

Since going private, Topps has lost its NFL and NBA trading card licenses to exclusives now held by Panini America, but holds a Major League Baseball license through 2020. One would likely expect Panini to have an interest in acquiring a trading card rival.  Upper Deck, which holds the National Hockey League license, lost its baseball deal in 2010.

One company to keep an eye on should a sale go forward is Fanatics, the online sports apparel and memorabilia giant, which has shown explosive growth in recent years.  Fanatics holds the exclusive license to produce MLB jerseys and other merchandise.  MLB, the NFL and NFLPA all have equity stakes in Fanatics, which is now valued at $4.5 billion.  Fanatics has exclusive autographed memorabilia agreements with Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant and several other baseball stars.