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Former Walt Disney Co. CEO Michael Eisner is selling Topps, the trading card and collectibles company that he bought in 2007 through his Tornante Company.
Topps is selling its trading card business to Fanatics, the sports merchandise and memorabilia giant, in a deal valued at $500 million, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Topps also has a confectionary business (which produces candy like Bazooka bubble gum and Ring Pop), which is not part of the sale.
Eisner had tried to take Topps public via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) last year, but that $1.3 billion deal collapsed after Fanatics quietly secured the trading card rights to Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association. Topps had held MLB trading card rights for 70 years, and also produces cards for Major League Soccer, Bundesliga, Formula 1, Star Wars and other sports and entertainment brands.
The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Topps was “blindsided” by the move and that Eisner had a “brief, heated” phone call with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred after the deal was announced.
While Eisner was at Disney, the entertainment giant founded the Anaheim Ducks NHL team, and acquired the Anaheim Angels baseball team, though both teams were sold in the early 2000s. Eisner’s successor, Bob Iger, is also a self-professed sports fan, and has reportedly expressed interest in pursuing ownership of an NBA team, should such an opportunity ever become available.
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