New York (CNN Business)Sports trading cards are super popular thanks to the craze over non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. That’s one reason why Topps, the company synonymous with baseball cards and bubble gum, is looking to go public again.
Topps announced Tuesday plans to merge with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in a deal that values Topps at $1.3 billion. The company will combine with a blank check firm named Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corporation II, (MUDS) or MUDS. Shares of MUDS popped more than 15% on the news.
The transaction also includes a so-called private investment in public equity (or PIPE) of $250 million.
Topps has been a publicly traded company several times throughout its 83 years in business. Most recently, the company was taken private in 2007 by The Tornante Co., an investment firm run by former Disney (DIS) CEO Michael Eisner, in a deal worth $385 million.
Demand (and prices) for baseball cards and other collectibles has gone through the roof lately due to the 21st century twist on the business from the newfound popularity of NFTs.
Topps recently expanded its business to sell digital editions of its player cards, each with a unique NFT built on blockchain technology. That creates a scarcity value that makes them more desirable to collectors — and more valuable.
Topps is “well situated with a universally recognized brand to capitalize on the fast emerging market for collectible NFTs,” said Jason Mudrick, founder and chief investment officer of Mudrick Capital, in the release.
Eisner, who will remain chairman of Topps once the SPAC merger is completed, added in the release that there is “a strong emotional connection between the Topps brand and consumers of all ages.”
Topps has a “growing portfolio of strategic licensing partnerships” that will help make it profitable, he said. The company owns the storied Bazooka gum brand as well as the Ring Pop, Baby Bottle Pop and Juicy Drop candy and sour gel brands.
But given the current craze for collectibles, Topps’ core baseball card business is the main draw.
Dapper Labs, a Canadian blockchain firm that developed the NBA Top Shot crypto-collectible company, recently raised more than $300 million from a group that includes basketball legend Michael Jordan and current star player Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets. Dapper, which also developed CryptoKitties, is now valued at $2.6 billion, according to data from research firm CB Insights.
Wealthy investors are increasingly betting on sports trading cards in addition to more traditional assets like stocks, bonds and real estate.
To that end, a 2000 autographed rookie card for football legend Tom Brady just sold for nearly $2.3 million in an auction last week. That was a record price, breaking the previous all-time high of more than $1.3 million that another Brady rookie card set just a few weeks earlier.
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