Alex Rodriguez's SPAC End Panini Pursuit After NBA, NFL Losses

, Bloomberg

Alex Rodriguez’s blank-check firm has ended merger talks with Panini SpA after the maker of sports cards, stickers and other collectibles lost exclusive licenses related to the National Basketball Association and National Football League, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Slam Corp. had been conducting due diligence on a transaction set to value Panini at $3 billion or more, Bloomberg News reported in July. Those talks were ended recently, in part because of the new deals signed between several sports leagues and collectibles retailer Fanatics Inc., said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing the private negotiations.

A representative for Panini Group didn’t respond to requests for comment. A Slam spokesman declined to comment.

The development is the latest fallout from Fanatics’ sudden takeover of the sports-card market, after it reportedly signed contracts last month with Major League Baseball and the NBA, as well as unions representing professional football, baseball and basketball players. A pending deal between Topps Co., which had produced MLB cards for decades, and blank-check firm Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II collapsed Aug. 20 as a result.

Panini, founded six decades ago in Modena, Italy, has been weighing a potential sale, Bloomberg News reported in February. The company, which surpassed $1 billion of annual sales in 2018, has sold stickers for every FIFA World Cup since the 1970 tournament in Mexico, and counts mixed martial arts organization UFC among its partners.

Read more