The wording of AEG’s release about the restructuring is bitter cold: The company “has ended its relationship with Randy Phillips, the CEO of AEG Live, and is restructuring the management of that live entertainment subsidiary” it said. There’s no word of thanks — or anything about what happened, or will happen, with Phillips, who joined AEG Live in 2002 and last year signed a five-year contract. The announcement says that Jay Marciano, who was COO, is now chairman and will oversee a team in LA of Paul Tollett, John Meglen, Shawn Trell and Rick Mueller. “I look forward to my greater involvement with the enormously talented AEG Live Team in continuing to invest and grow one of AEG’s most important divisions,” Marciano says. Billboard’s industry specialist Ray Waddell reports that AEG is the world’s No. 2 concert promoter, behind Live Nation, and has grossed $1.1B in ticket sales so far this year with tours including Bon Jovi, the Rolling Stones, Justin Bieber, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.
So much for Anschutz’s dream to make a $10B or so deal that could revamp the live entertainment business. The Anschutz Company just pulled the plug on the auction process that began in September to sell its sprawling sports and entertainment unit Anschutz Entertainment Group that has its hands in more than 100 global arenas and stadiums, numerous sports teams worldwide and is No. 2 in the world behind Live Nation in live concert promotions. Philip Anschutz “will resume a more active role” especially with its “world-wide strategy and operations,” the company says. And Tim Leiweke is leaving as CEO, the job he has held since 1996, to be replaced by Dan Beckerman, who was COO and CFO. The new chief says that “Priority projects going forward include the development of Farmers Field adjacent to our L.A. Live campus and the pursuit of our plan to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles, our recently announced initiative to collaborate with MGM to build a new arena in Las Vegas, the acquisition of ownership stakes and the associated refurbishment of several major global arenas in Europe and our ongoing investment in AXS.com, our ticketing and e-commerce platform, as we expand its capabilities for the benefit of our venues, partners, performers and consumer end-users.”
Anschutz says that “from the very beginning of the sales process” he had made it clear that “unless the right buyer came forward with a transaction on acceptable terms we would not sell the Company.” Signs that the sale was in jeopardy arose recently with reports indicating that the top bid from Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital in partnership with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund was below Anschutz’ $8B asking price. Guggenheim Partners had dropped out, and Bloomberg reported that Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong was unlikely to come near the amount Anschutz wanted. Negotiations were said to be on hold while Anschutz recovers from back surgery. In January, Leiweke told Billboard that the auction process had dragged out because “more people were interested than we ever imagined.” He added, though, that “We’re getting down to the final straws here.” All that was left was to “get Mr. Anschutz and [potential buyers] together on the right deal.”
Here’s the release:
It’s the beginning of the beginning of the auction process for billionaire Philip Anschutz’ live entertainment business. The company is circulating a 25-page information memorandum that describes the operations being offered but without financial data, Reuters reports. Those who sign non-disclosure agreements should be able to see more details, including confidential numbers, by the end of the month. Anschutz is thinking big: bidders will have to offer about $10B or more just to make it to a second round, the wire service says citing unnamed sources.