GSI Commerce Buying Sports Merchandise Retailer

To extend its reach in licensed sports merchandise, GSI Commerce announced Feb. 9 that it will acquire Fanatics for $277 million, including $171 million of cash and $106 million of GSI common stock.

Fanatics operates more than 250 ecommerce websites, including Footballfanatics.com and TeamFanShop.com, and more than 60 e-Commerce stores for collegiate and professional sports partners and media organizations. GSI Commerce, a ecommerce platform provider, already operates the official e-commerce websites for NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, NASCAR and ESPN.

GSI Commerce said in a release that its licensed sports merchandise business had net revenues of more than $300 million in 2010. More than 50% of those sales were generated by college merchandise.

Fanatics was founded in 1995 by Alan and Mitchell Trager, and is based in Jacksonville, FL. Alan Trager is CEO of the company, which employs more than 400 employees.

Trager and his leadership team will remain with the company following the close of the deal. The Trager family owns about 63% of Fanatics, while Insight Venture Partners owns 30%.

The sale is expected to close in the second quarter on 2011, GSI Commerce said.

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