Iconic Soccer Sticker Maker Panini Explores Sale

Panini SpA, maker of the iconic soccer stickers collected and traded by fans young and old around the world, is weighing a possible sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Italian publishing house has drawn interest from suitors including private equity firms, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. Deliberations are in the early stages and there’s no certainty they will lead to a formal sales process, the people said.

A representative for Panini Group wasn’t available for comment outside normal business hours in Italy.

Panini was founded in 1961 in Modena, Italy, and over the years became famous for its collections of stickers and trading cards depicting the stars of world soccer. The company has sold stickers for every FIFA World Cup since the 1970 tournament in Mexico. Huddles of collectors trading cards are a familiar sight ahead of major competitions.

Complete Panini sticker collections and rare single-card items, such as those of players like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo before they become famous, can fetch high prices in the collectors’ market.

The company also publishes children’s magazines and books, comics and graphic novels in Europe and Latin America and employs more than 1,200 staff, according to its website. In 2018, company sales reached the $1 billion milestone.

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