Posted on: December 18, 2023, 05:00h.
Last updated on: December 17, 2023, 11:13h.
Fanatics could commence an initial public offering (IPO) in 2024, ending two years of speculation regarding one of the most anticipated IPOs.
Following two investor days, including one in June, speculation swirled that Florida-based Fanatics would finally sell shares to public investors. That didn’t happen, damping hopes for activity from big names in what’s been a sluggish year for IPOs. Through the first three quarters of 2023, US IPOs generated proceeds of just $16.7 billion for listing firms.
Fanatics is expected to come to the public market after making several acquisitions in the past couple of years, including Topps trading cards and clothing brand Mitchell & Ness. Fanatics is best known for the exclusive licensing deals it has with the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and colleges and universities to make and sell official team merchandise,” according to Seeking Alpha.
Following a December 2022 $700 million capital raise, Fanatics is valued at $31 billion. Should the company raise close to that amount or more, it would likely be one of next year’s largest IPOs.
Signs Are There Fanatics Is Prepping IPO
In addition to the aforementioned investor days, there are other signs Fanatics — a new entrant to US iGaming and sports wagering fray — is readying an IPO.
In April, the company appointed Deborah Crawford as senior vice president, head of investor relations. She spent a decade in a similar role at Facebook parent Meta Platforms and prior to that, she led investor relations at Ancestry.com and Netflix. That’s a splashy investor relations hire for a company that intends to remain private, indicating that Fanatics could indeed be a credible 2024 IPO.
In September, Fanatics announced the hiring of Andrew Low Ah Kee as chief executive officer of Fanatics Commerce, the firm’s merchandising unit. That’s another hire market observers view as a potential prelude to an IPO.
In mid-2022, Fanatics hired Matt King as CEO of its betting and gaming division. He previously held the same role at FanDuel, which is the largest online sportsbook operator in the US.
Speaking of Fanatics and Betting…
Following its $150 million purchase of PointsBet’s US operations, Fanatics is expected to make a broader push into US sports wagering in 2024.
In September, the company launched the Fanatics Sportsbook app in Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Tennessee last month. After completing a portion of its previously announced acquisition of PointsBet US, Fanatics debuted the app in another seven states in late August — Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
“Notably, Fanatics saw search interest for its betting app soar in November. During a Fanatics investor event earlier in the year, reps from the NBA Players Association and Las Vegas Raiders minority owner Tom Brady offered support,” added Seeking Alpha.
Fanatics counts the four major US sports leagues — Major League Baseball (MLB), the NBA, NFL, and the NHL — as well as Major League Soccer (MLS) among its investors. Other investors include Silver Lake, SoftBank, BlackRock, Fidelity, and MSD Partners — an investment vehicle controlled by Dell founder Michael Dell.