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: READ MORE »
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. Read More »
Don’t count Philip Anschutz out as a potential owner of an NFL franchise in Los Angeles. Contrary to what some speculate, I’m told that the big reason the reclusive billionaire decided to put his AEG live entertainment business on the block is because it could provide him with the cash, and flexibility, to land a football team and stadium that would provide a legacy for him and his family — somewhat like Jerry Jones’ with the Dallas Cowboys. Anschutz would like to back away from live entertainment and ticketing. It’s a tough business that’s become tougher than ever as Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary have become more dominant. And, like a lot of people, Anschutz was impressed by the recent $2.15B deal to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers to Guggenheim Partners. It demonstrated just how lucrative it can be to own a trophy sports property in LA. No wonder he hired the bankers who handled the arrangements for Frank McCourt — Blackstone Advisory Group — to also manage the AEG auction. It features stakes in sports teams including the Los Angeles Lakers and the Kings, as well as real estate holdings.
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UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AM: The company has put out a release confirming its intention to sell (posted below last night’s original story) and that it has hired Blackstone Advisory Partners — the firm that recently guided the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers — to help it find a buyer. Anschutz Co ended its announcement with the carrot of all carrots, saying any new owner “will have the historic opportunity to benefit from AEG’s strategy to reunite Los Angeles with the NFL, as AEG moves forward with its efforts to bring an NFL franchise to Farmers Field to be built at L.A. LIVE”. Read More »