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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fanatics Trading Cards, a new collectibles unit of sports merchandise retailer Fanatics, raised $350 million at a $10.4 billion valuation from Silver Lake, Insight Partners and Endeavor.

Why it matters: This is an extraordinary valuation for a consumer products company that hasn't made anything yet.

  • The justification, per a source, is that the current trading card market generates around $1 billion in EBITDA and that FTC — which recently beat out incumbents Topps and Panini for long-term licensing rights with top pro sports leagues and players' associations — can use Fanatics' vertical commerce model to increase both top and bottom lines.

Comps: Topps was to be valued at $1.3 billion in a SPAC deal that collapsed after it lost out on the MLB and MLBPA licenses to Fanatics. Panini reportedly would have been valued north of $3 billion in SPAC talks that dissolved after it got beat out by Fanatics for the NBA and NBAPA.

Old school: FTC has the rights to create digital trading cards, but Fanatics itself will handle NFTs (via a new platform called Candy Digital). In other words, the $10.4 billion is largely a bet on cardboard.

The bottom line: "Management plans to build a one-stop-shop for sports memorabilia and will add services including financing, grading and storage." — Kim Bhasin, Bloomberg

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Oct 13, 2021 - Economy & Business

Scoop: Arctos raises over $3 billion to buy stakes in pro sports teams

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Arctos, an upstart private equity firm founded to buy into pro sports teams, has secured over $3 billion in investor commitments, Axios has learned. The firm originally planned to raise between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Why it matters: Private equity has become obsessed with pro sports, from American basketball to European soccer to New Zealand rugby. And Arctos leveraged this fervor on the fundraising circuit.

Ohio youth sports (slowly) rebounding

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Health concerns from area families are keeping some children from participating in youth sports, even as recreation departments return to their pre-pandemic league schedules.

Why it matters: The pause in youth sports during the pandemic may have lasting effects on participation rates here and across the country.

  • There may also be deeper implications on children's physical and mental health, research shows.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.