Billionaire Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin announced Wednesday that he is selling his 10% stake in the parent company that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, citing a conflict of interest with Fanatics’ collectibles and planned sports betting operations.
Rubin has no plans to buy into a different team after he sells his stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC. His focus is instead on Fanatics, the sports e-commerce company that has grown since 2011 into a global operation with a $27 billion valuation.
“When I was part of the ownership group that acquired the Sixers in 2011, Fanatics was just getting started with a small office in King of Prussia selling only licensed sports products online,” Rubin said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Today, Fanatics has quickly transformed into a global digital spots platform across multiple businesses, with more than 10,000 employees in 57 countries and serving nearly 100 million sports fans worldwide.”
Fanatics’ growth has been partly fueled by its acquisitions in recent years of WinCraft, which makes sports-themed merchandise and Topps, the trading card company it bought for $500 million.
The NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and some players unions all have stakes in Fanatics, which has numerous licensing rights and deals with professional and college athletes.
Topps recently announced that it will be launching a new line of trading cards featuring college athletes this fall, a program that will include more than 150 schools and cut some of the players in on the profits.
“I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the ownership group buying the team I grew up idolizing,” Rubin said in his statement. “Attending games, getting to know our players and watching, up close, from the inside has been one of the most exhilarating and educational aspects of my life.”
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– CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this article.