Fanatics has raised $320 million in a new funding round that values the world’s largest seller of licensed sports merchandise at $12.8 billion, according to someone familiar with the terms.
That valuation has more than doubled in the seven months since August, when Fanatics closed $350 million at a $6.2 billion valuation. That round was discussed internally as its final funding before going public, but previous backers wanted another opportunity to increase their involvement before whatever comes next, the person said.
Silver Lake, which first invested in Fanatics in 2015, is leading the round. Others adding to their equity include Major League Baseball, Blackstone and all four groups from last year’s round: Neuberger Berman, Thrive Capital, Fidelity Management & Research Co., and Franklin Templeton.
At $12.8 billion, Fanatics is now one of the more valuable U.S. companies in apparel and sportswear. For reference, publicly traded Dick’s Sporting Goods has a market cap of roughly $6.7 billion. Under Armour’s is $10.2 billion; Nike’s is $216.2 billion.
Despite the halt in the global sports calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fanatics saw record ecommerce revenue last year. Those sales are already up 30% in 2021 over the same period.
Fanatics has used that growth, and the capital from last August, to be opportunistic. It bolstered its headwear manufacturing capabilities in September through a purchase of assets from Vetta Brand, and three months later it gained hardgoods manufacturing though an acquisition of WinCraft. Fanatics also upped its presence on college campuses in a deal with Barnes & Noble Education, and recently formed a 50-50 joint venture with Hillhouse Capital to fuel its expansion into China.
Owned by billionaire Michael Rubin, Fanatics intends to use the new capital for existing business efforts, as well as new opportunities, including other possible acquisitions. It’s unclear if the company’s next major step is a traditional IPO, an acquisition by a SPAC, or something else.