Motorsports Authentics bids to avoid bankruptcy

MA was created in 2005 from about $245 million worth of acquisitions by ISC and SMI, but its value has decreased below $40 million, based on the most recent earnings reports, and is likely worth even less today.

“MA has been going through the process of establishing its core competencies and we're waiting to see what their future looks like,” said John Bickford, general manager of Hendrick-Gordon Licensing, which represents drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin, three of the sport's top sellers.

“We understand there are some big decisions that have to be made, but before you can start forgiving debt, you need to know what the plan is.”

Plagued by declining sales, annual losses and heavy management turnover, a new-look MA would likely stick to what it does best - trackside retail - while spinning off the die-cast car division, according to team and league officials involved in the talks. Stakes in ownership of the die-cast entity could be taken by the teams, or a third party could be brought in to run the company.

Revenue from the new die-cast entity would be used to repay the teams a settled amount, plus interest.

Joe Mattes, vice president of licensing and marketing for the sport's top seller, Dale Earnhardt Jr., said the reorganisation of MA is likely the genesis for NASCAR Properties, a centralised licensing agency that would represent each of NASCAR's team rights, as well as the league's rights. A unified licensing body would be similar to those like NFL Properties and NBA Properties in other leagues.

“We're looking at a reshuffling of the deck,” Mattes said. “We've needed something that can be a catalyst to effect positive change and move us as an industry in a better direction.”

Mattes, Bickford, Roush Fenway's Smith, DEI's Jeff Steiner and other executives from the teams have been influential in the process, along with Brooks and Blake Davidson from NASCAR's licensing division.

“We're taking the approach of how do 'we' solve it, not how do 'they' solve it,” Bickford said.

MA generated more than $200 million in revenue in 2008, the only year it has turned a profit, but MA's revenue this year will be a little more than $100 million, industry insiders say. The die-cast division accounts for a little less than half of the company's revenue.

Jim Morris has been running MA as the general manager with direction from MA's board, which includes Roger VanDerSnick and John Saunders from ISC and Marcus Smith and Don Hawk from SMI.

by Michael Smith / Special to the Sporting News

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Mark Martin (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) leads the field away at Phoenix   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]

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