New tracking stock lets investors buy a stake in pro athlete earnings.
FORTUNE — When sports fans talk about large player contracts, they often say “Who cares, it’s not my money.” Well, a new Wall Street brokerage is looking to change all that.
It’s called Fantex Holdings, and will offer investors the chance to bet on the future earnings (both on-field and off) of professional athletes, via tracking stocks that will launch via initial public offerings. First up will be Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who would receive $10 million in exchange for a 20% stake of Foster’s gross “brand” earnings beginning this past March. It’s an indefinite deal (including a possible coaching career), unless Foster retires for reasons outside of injury or illness within the next two years. In that case, Fantex could require him to pay a $10.5 million termination fee.
For context, Foster currently is in the second year of a five-year contract with the Texans, in which he is expected to earn up to $23.5 million from 2013-2016. He also has ongoing endorsement contracts valued at around 687,750, with companies like Under Armour UA . That means that Fantex would receive up to $4.84 million through 2016 from Foster, at which point he’d be 30 years old (today there is only one NFL starting running back 31 or older). Foster also has been cast in an upcoming Kevin Costner film, and his related earnings would count toward his brand value.
Anyone would be able to buy the tracking stock (minimum investment of $50), with the only restriction being that no one investor can hold more than a 1% stake. If successfully raised, it would trade on Fantex’s own exchange — with Fantex taking a 2% commission (1% from each side of the trade). Stifel SF is listed as a co-underwriter on the Arian Foster offering.
All of this is the brainchild of a pair of former entrepreneurs and venture capitalists: CEO Buck French and chairman Dave Beirne. French is best-known for founding OnLink Technologies (sold to Siebel Systems for $600 million), and also ran Security (sold to Secure Computing for $20 million) and is a former partner with JPMorgan Partners. Beirne is the former Silicon Valley executive recruiter who was an early partner at Benchmark Capital,where his deals included Securify. The Fantex Holdings board also includes Benchmark Capital co-founder Bruce Dunlevie and Denver Broncos executive (and former QB) John Elway.
French says that he expects Arian Foster to be just the beginning, although no other athletes have yet signed a contract with Fantex. He also envisions the company eventually trying to sign other types of entertainers (actors, musicians, etc.).
I also asked French why he was speaking to reporters, given that companies typically enter quiet periods after filing for IPOs. His reply was that transcripts of our interview, and all other media interviews, will be publicly filed with the SEC.
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