How Bad Does Michael Eisner Want A Baseball Card Empire? (TOPP, DIS)

August 20, 2007 by Douglas A. McIntyre

The Committee to Enhance Topps announced today that independent proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services, or "ISS," has recommended that stockholders of The Topps Company, Inc. (NASDAQ:TOPP) vote against the Michael Eisner and Madison Dearborn Partners merger offer at the Special Meeting of the Company’s stockholders scheduled to be held on August 30, 2007. 

The offer was $9.75 and the stock traded above that even before the Upper Deck offer came into play.  This deal has been long running and has been controversial from the start.  There were concerns that a Upper Deck & Topps company may turn the sports card and memorabilia operation into mostly a one-player dominated industry again.  Arthur Shorin has been accused of more conflicts here and not having shareholder interest in mind, and the company had felt that competing offers were more of a distraction than they were in good faith. 

It’s hard to tell how this one is going to end now.  Topps stock is at $10.05 after the open, still above that $9.75 offer.  Shares are down from highs though, and the 52-week trading range has been $8.37 and $10.75.  As the sports card industry has been flooded with product for longer than any relatively new collector would like to imagine, Topps stock has been mostly dead money since 1999 after it recovered off the mid to late 1990’s lows.  Given that Michael Eisner was the original bidder here, it’s almost surprising that Disney (NYSE:DIS) didn’t ever take any interest here.

Jon C. Ogg
August 20, 2007

Jon Ogg can be reached at jonogg@247wallst.com; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.