April 16, 2012, 12:24 PM

E-retailer Fanatics acquires a competing merchant of sports apparel and gear

Fanatics will pay $183 million for Dreams Inc.

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Dreams Inc.’s solid e-commerce growth rate apparently didn’t escape the attention of one of its chief competitors, Fanatics Inc.

In fact, Fanatics is purchasing Dreams, which operates FansEdge.com and multiple other branded sports merchandise e-commerce sites, in a deal valued at $183 million. Fanatics is an online licensed sports products retailer owned and operated by Kynetic LLC.

Under the terms of the deal, Fanatics and Kynetic, the e-commerce company launched by former GSI Commerce Inc. founder Michael Rubin in September, will pay $3.45 per share for all of Dreams’ outstanding shares. The sale is expected to close sometime in the third quarter. Rubin sold GSI Commerce to eBay Inc. in June 2011 in a deal valued at $2.4 billion. Rubin’s new company, Kynetic, includes limited-time sale site Rue La La, Fanatics, a group of e-retail sites that sell team sports apparel and ShopRunner, the multimerchant free-shipping program that competes with Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime.

Dreams, which posted web sales of $113 million, up 27.7% from $88.5 million in 2010, will help Fanatics further grow its niche of web stores that sell licensed sports apparel and related gear such as FootballFanatics.com. Dreams is No. 181 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and FootballFanatics.com is No. 98.

“Fanatics shares our focus on the customer, innovation and growth,” says Dreams CEO Ross Tannenbaum. “This combination will enhance Dreams’ ability to achieve its goals, while realizing a significant and immediate all-cash premium for our shareholders. I am confident this merger is the right decision for Dreams and our shareholders.”

To finance the deal Fanatics is using an unspecified amount of equity financing from investment banking firm Insight Venture Partners. It’s unclear, once the deal is closed, if Dreams will remain a stand-alone entity or be folded into Fanatics, which posted web sales of $525 million in 2011, up 188.8% from $181.8 million in 2010. Fanatics was acquired by GSI Commerce in February 2011.

The acquisition of Dreams also gives Fanatics a store base. Dreams operates a network of about 30 sports apparel and gear stores in locations such as the Caesars Forum Shops in Las Vegas and Mall of America in Minneapolis. “We are bringing together two of the most passionate management teams in licensed sports products,” says Fanatics CEO Alan Trager. “The addition of Dreams will enable Fanatics to accelerate our investments in product assortment, mobile and e-commerce technology, and a regional fulfillment infrastructure to better serve our customers and our partners. Together, we will be much better-positioned to deliver a superior customer experience.”

Jefferies & Company Inc. acted as the exclusive financial advisor and Roetzel & Andress LPA served as legal advisor to Dreams. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP served as legal adviser to Fanatics.

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