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Fanatics Raises $1.5 Billion at $27 Billion Valuation

Fanatics Raises $1.5 Billion at $27 Billion Valuation
Written by Publishing Team

Fanatics Inc. has raised $1.5 billion from a group of big investors, pushing the sports-merchandising giant’s valuation to $27 billion as it works to expand beyond its core business, according to people familiar with the matter.

Investors in the latest round include Fidelity Management & Research Co, funds managed by BlackRock Inc.

and Michael Dell’s family office, known as MSD Capital LP, the people said.

Fanatics’ latest valuation marks a big step up since last August, when it raised $325 million at an $18 billion valuation from investors including SoftBank Group Corp.’s

Vision Fund. It is likely to fuel speculation about timing of a possible initial public offering for the company, which also counts private-equity firm Silver Lake as a major backer.

The company has said an IPO is likely but it remains focused on building the business and hasn’t provided an update on timing.

Fanatics, which is controlled by Chief Executive Michael Rubin, has been working to expand beyond its core business of providing merchandise and memorabilia for major league sports teams.

Just after its August fundraising round, Fanatics announced exclusive trading-card deals with the unions representing the players in Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Football League, overturning their longstanding relationships with companies such as Topps Co. It also struck new trading-card deals with MLB and the NBA.

Fanatics Trading Cards received $350 million in funding from a trio of investors that valued the new enterprise at $10.4 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported in September.

In January, Fanatics said it was buying Topps. The purchase price was $500 million, the Journal reported.

That flurry of deals that upended the trading-card business was just one in a series of new initiatives that have sprawled out under the Fanatics umbrella.

The company last year hired the former CEO of online-betting platform FanDuel Group with the goal of entering the rapidly expanding legal sports-betting landscape. It later applied for a license in New York but was rejected.

Fanatics also launched a business called Candy Digital selling nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. That business, which has deals with the professional-sports leagues, was valued at $1.5 billion in October when it raised money from outside investors.

The company also owns half of hat retailer Lids Sports Group, which it acquired in 2019.

Write to Miriam Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com and Andrew Beaton at andrew.beaton@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
Fanatics is controlled by Chief Executive Michael Rubin, but he doesn’t own a majority stake. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said the company was predominantly owned by Mr. Rubin. (Corrected on March 2)

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Appeared in the March 3, 2022, print edition as ‘Fanatics Attracts Large Investors.’

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