A-Rod’s Slam SPAC Is in Merger Talks With Italy’s Panini Group

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Alex Rodriguez’s blank-check firm Slam Corp. is in talks to merge with Panini SpA, which makes sports stickers, cards and other collectibles traded by fans around the world, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

A transaction is set to value the combined entity at $3 billion or more, the person said. Due diligence is in progress and it’s possible terms change or a deal isn’t consummated.

Panini was founded six decades ago in Modena, Italy, and has been weighing a potential sale, Bloomberg News reported in February. It has sold stickers for every FIFA World Cup since the 1970 tournament in Mexico and huddles of collectors trading cards are a familiar sight ahead of major competitions. Complete Panini sticker collections and rare single-card items can demand high prices in the collectors’ market, and the company surpassed $1 billion of annual sales in 2018.

A representative for Panini Group couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. A Slam spokesperson declined to comment.

Slam, a special purpose acquisition company formed in partnership between Rodriguez’s investment firm A-Rod Corp. and hedge fund Antara Capital LP, raised $575 million in a February initial public offering. It said in listing documents that it’ll focus on acquisition targets in the sports, media, entertainment, health and wellness and consumer technology sectors.

Another collectibles specialist, The Topps Co., in April agreed to go public through a merger with Mudrick Capital Acquisition Corp. II.

Panini in January signed a licensing agreement with UFC to become the mixed martial arts organization’s trading card partner. The company at the time touted its direct-to-consumer “Panini Instant” platform which makes trading cards of key sporting events available hours after they occur. Panini has said it holds licenses for other sporting codes including the NFL, NBA, FIFA, Disney and Epic Games.

The family-owned company has said it has distribution channels in over 100 countries, and its website says it has more than 1,000 collection launches annually. In addition to trading cards and stickers, the company publishes comics, books, magazines and graphic novels.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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