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Topps of Baseball Card Fame Considered for Sale

  • Madison Dearborn, Tornante discuss split, sale with advisers
  • Private equity firms took Topps private for $385 million

The private equity owners of Topps Co. are weighing a sale of the baseball card maker, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Madison Dearborn Partners and Tornante Co., the private investment firm of former Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Michael Eisner, are speaking with bankers about strategic options for the company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The most likely option to be pursued is splitting the company’s card and candy businesses, with the latter, which contributes most of its $40 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, being sold first, the people said. The total value of the company is about $400 million, the people said. A final decision hasn’t been made and the groups could elect to keep the business.

A spokesman for Madison Dearborn declined to comment. A representative of New York-based Topps didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. A Tornante representative said, “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

Topps, founded in 1938 and famous for selling bubble gum with the collectible trading cards that have filled countless shoe boxes, was taken private by the two companies in a 2007 deal valued at $385 million. The transaction followed an activist campaign by shareholders Pembridge Capital Management and Crescendo Partners, which had pushed the company to explore a sale.

The Topps card division focuses on sports including Major League Baseball and the English Premier League. It also makes products for entertainment companies such as Disney. The company’s confectionery brands include Bazooka bubble gum, Ring Pop, Push Pop, Baby Bottle Pop and Juicy Drop Pop lollipops, according to Tornante’s website.

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