Injuries threaten NFL player IPOs

Back surgery and concussion could push back IPOs of first NFL players to be publicly listed 

The first two NFL players earmarked for public investment could see their IPOs pushed back, after both sportsmen suffered medical setbacks this week.

The footballers have been signed up by Fantex, a fledgling company that hopes to promote shares in emerging football stars so members of the public can profit from their sporting performances.

Fantex is primarily a sports marketing and management firm that earmarks potential world-beaters and invests in their future earnings, including playing contracts and brand endorsement. To fund the acquisition of these stakes, Fantex has listed stocks available to the public that track individual players’ economic performances.

The company has plans in place to eventually build a fully functioning trading exchange that will allow small-stake investors to buy and sell shares in the earnings of football players, other athletes and even entertainers.

Media reports have surfaced, however, that indicate Fantex’s first project – Houston Texans running back Arian Foster – is expected to have back surgery in the coming weeks that will end his playing season. The company’s second client, meanwhile, San Francisco 49ers star tight end Vernon Davis, left the field with a concussion sustained in a match against the Carolina Panthers.

Davis has since claimed he is ‘feeling great’ after his head injury, however, and looks set to return to match practice this week, and potentially to a game against the New Orleans Saint. Fantex agreed a deal earlier this month to buy 10 percent of Davis’ future earnings for $4 mn.

Potential investors can register with Fantex on the firm’s website, but the company itself is yet to accept IPO orders. Cornell French, Fantex’s co-founder and CEO, has previously said he hopes to be able to take reservations for Foster’s stock as early as this week. The firm’s target audience, he claims, is passionate football fans who are willing to part with a minimum investment of $10 in order to benefit from their favorite players’ soaring careers.

It remains to be seen whether individual players will start to hire IROs in order to communicate with their investor-fans, or to fairly disclose information about injuries or other career-changing events to rest of the market.

A Fantex spokesperson declined to comment until after the Texans have announced details about Foster’s outlook for the rest of the season.

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