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Sports retailer Fanatics raises $320 mln at $12.8 bln valuation in new funding round

March 24 (Reuters) - Fanatics, the world’s biggest licensed sports merchandise retailer, raised $320 million in fresh capital in a funding round that valued the company at $12.8 billion, according to sources close to the deal.

The funding round, which came months after its last round, was led by private equity firms Silver Lake, Blackstone, Fidelity Investments, Neuberger Berman, Thrive Capital and Major League Baseball, all of which are existing investors in the e-commerce company, signaling strong investor interest in online retailers that have benefited from the coronavirus pandemic.

The company was last valued at $6.2 billion in August. The latest round brought total funding raised by Fanatics to over $1.8 billion since 2011.

The new funds will be used to expand the company’s model to design and distribute exclusive licensed merchandise, according to its website. It also plans on international expansion and to pursue mergers and acquisitions, said the sources, who requested anonymity.

Backed by SoftBank Group Corp, Fanatics operates online stores and sells products for more than 300 teams, brands and leagues from Manchester United and Nike to the National Football League.

The Florida-based company recorded strong online sales growth during the pandemic, and expects over $3 billion in revenue in 2021.

Last month, the company said it was expanding into China via a venture with private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Group.

The company is widely believed to be considering a possible public listing.

“While an IPO is clearly an available option to us, there is no update on any timeline,” a company representative said in an interview. (Reporting by Niket Nishant and Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru and Krystal Hu in New York)

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