Eisner eyes Topps expansion

New Topps chief Michael Eisner is looking to apply a Disney-style business model to the firm.
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The former Disney chief wants to turn it into a fully fledged media and entertainment company by taking its characters into television programmes and films.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Eisner said he wanted to expand the group's international presence and develop properties such as comic hero Bazooka Joe, whose adventures can be found wrapped around packets of bubble gum.

He describes the character as his new Mickey Mouse. Topps has made baseball, American football and basketball trading cards for 70 years and is growing in Europe, thanks to a deal with the English Premier League.

"Like in a previous life of mine, when I tried to take [Disney] and extend it beyond kids to families and sports, I think [Topps] can be built into a media brand," he said. "It's an interesting brand that can be grown in Europe."

Eisner was chief executive of Walt Disney for 20 years, where he transformed the company from a film studio and theme park owner that generated annual revenues of $1.5bn into a diversified media conglomerate with revenues of $30bn.

He masterminded the purchase of ABC in a deal that also bought the highly profitable ESPN sports network into the Disney fold.

Topps, he said, was "a little smaller than Disney was when I started but there is lots of upside".

The company has agreements with the three major US sports leagues and World Wrestling Entertainment, making trading cards, sticker album collections, and collectible games.

He plans to produce Topps-branded sports programming and capitalise on the global popularity of the English Premier League by taking the company into new markets.

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