Japanese telecom giant Softbank Group Corp (TYO: 9984) has made a $1 billion investment into Fanatics Inc, a leading sports merchandise licensor that handles e-commerce sales for a variety of teams & leagues, including the NFL and MLB. The deal places a $4.5 billion private market valuation on the company. Fanatics sells everything from t-shirts to lawn chairs and has built a burgeoning memorabilia business with the likes of Steph Curry, Ronda Rousey, and Peyton Manning, signed to exclusive contracts. Softbank is looking to compete with the likes of Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour within the licensed sports apparel space.
Howie Long-Short: Want to invest in Fanatics, but not interested in Softbank? Alibaba (BABA) contributed to a $170 million round in June 2013, at a $3 billion valuation.
Fan Marino: Fanatics is the ONLY place I shop for licensed sports apparel. Just make sure you don’t pay full retail; they are always running 20-30% off sales!