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Modena. Jennifer Lopez’s ex now wants Panini

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Baseball star Rodriguez with his company and hedge fund Antara is reportedly discussing a merger with the sticker group valued at 2.5 billion

Gianluca Pedrazzi

Former U.S. baseball star Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, one of the most famous and paid champions in the history of stars and stripes sports, known by the nickname ‘A-Rod’, lit a beacon on Panini figurines. Spac Slam Corp, founded by its investment company, A-Rod Corp, together with hedge fund Antara, is reportedly discussing a merger with the historic Italian group owned by the Bolognese Baroni family and CEO Aldo Hugo Sallustro.

The due diligence, according to rumors circulating, would be underway and there would be talk of a valuation of not less than 3 billion dollars (2.54 billion euros). If the operation were to go ahead, Panini would merge with Slam Corp, being automatically listed on the Nasdaq in New York, where the spac landed last February. In the IPO Rodriguez and associates raised 575 million dollars for shopping in the sports, media, entertainment, wellness and technology sectors. A-Rod, 45, a New Yorker of Dominican origin, also known to the news for having been for four years the boyfriend of Jennifer Lopez, with whom he left in April, but with whom he continues to share investments and business. His debut in the Major League, at only 19 years old, dates back to 1994, and in 2004 he landed in the New York Yankees of which he was a flag until 2017, when he hung his shoes on the nail, after 22 seasons of militancy in the U.S. professional league and three awards as the best player. Thanks to princely contracts – such as the ten-year $ 275 million granted to him by the Yenkees – he has transformed into a wealthy business man, credited by Forbes with a personal wealth of more than 400 million dollars, invested largely in real estate and technology companies. A-Rod is also trying to take over the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team in a $1.5 billion deal after missing the run to the New York Mets. The Panini dossier has been circulating for several months on the table of private equity funds such as Eqt, Carlyle, Kkr and Advent. The property, entrusted to the advisor Lincoln International, would like to win a figure between 3 and 3.5 billion euros, equal to 13-15 times the 230 million of 2020 EBITDA. Last year the group would have achieved over 800 million euros in revenues, up from 676 million in 2019 but less than the record of 939 million marked in 2018, the year of the World Cup in Russia. The request would have cooled the interest of the funds and could be scaled back as part of a transaction that would open panini’s shareholding to American investors. From the headquarters in via Emilio Po no comment on the rumors, while just the other day Panini – which has about 1200 employees – announced that after the triumph of Italy it has in store a surprise for Euro 2020 in the wake of the boom of Mancini’s team. The company in the days of the European Championship has already launched a collection of rigid cards, then a series of ‘classic’ stickers with EU distribution but also a box of instant cards, to celebrate in real time or almost the goals, team photos and the most significant moments of the competition won by the Azzurri. —

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