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Fanatics Taps Perelman Company Lawyer for Post After Topps Deal

Jan. 20, 2022, 10:51 PM

Fanatics Holdings Inc., the sports retail and e-commerce company that acquired Topps trading cards this month, named Shiri Ben-Yishai as general counsel.

Ben-Yishai will oversee legal affairs for the digital sports platform, including betting, gaming, collectibles, and non-fungible tokens, Fanatics said Thursday. She’s the “first general counsel that incorporates all areas of the expanded Fanatics business,” the privately held company said.

Before joining Fanatics, Ben-Yishai spent nearly five years in-house at billionaire Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Inc. She also spent a half-dozen years at UBS Group AG and seven years as an associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Wachtell represented Fanatics earlier this month on its purchase of the trading card brand of Topps Co., which is co-owned by former Walt Disney Co. boss Michael Eisner, for a reported $500 million. Fanatics’ own trading card business was valued at more than $10 billion, Bloomberg News reported last year.

A former member of the Israel Defense Forces, Ben-Yishai began her legal career in 1998 as an associate in Tel Aviv at Israeli law firm Gornitzky & Co.

“I can’t wait to help execute the company’s vision to completely reinvent the sports fan experience across a variety of areas,” she said in a statement.

Glenn Schiffman, the company’s chief financial officer, touted in its statement Ben-Yishai’s more than two decades of experience with mergers and acquisitions and corporate legal issues. Schiffman joined Fanatics last year after serving as CFO for billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC holding company.

Fanatics is considering going public as it expands from sports merchandising into new business areas like digital assets and mobile sports betting, according to a report last year by Bloomberg News. The company is controlled by billionaire Michael Rubin, who also co-owns the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers and National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils.

Caren Yeamans, who was most recently general counsel for Fanatics, will keep that title for the legacy merchandising operation, the company said. Yeamans, who has spent a decade in house at Fanatics, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Yeamans is a former associate at Blank Rome and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia. She was part of a team of Morgan Lewis lawyers that advised Rubin in 2011 on his nearly $300 million acquisition of Fanatics.

Morgan Lewis has continued to handle legal matters for the company, including a $320 million equity financing round last year, an equity investment in Barnes & Noble Education Inc. in 2020, and the acquisition of sports retailer WinCraft by Fanatics that same year.

MacAndrews & Forbes, which earlier this month saw its general counsel Timothy Martin depart for Roberta Kaplan’s litigation boutique, had promoted Ben-Yishai to chief legal officer last year.

The New York-based company didn’t respond to requests for comment about whether Ben-Yishai and Martin have been replaced.

Perelman, who controls MacAndrews & Forbes, has been busy over the past two years selling off assets as he seeks to streamline his business empire.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com