Anschutz Takes AEG Off the Market; President Leiweke Is Out
Phil Anschutz has taken Anschutz Entertainment Group off the market after bids for the world’s second-biggest concert promoter and owner of the Staples Center in Los Angeles didn’t meet the billionaire’s demand.
Tim Leiweke, AEG’s president and chief executive officer since 1996, will leave the Los Angeles-based company, according to a statement from AEG, whose portfolio includes London’s O2 Arena and ownership stakes in the National Basketball Association’s Lakers, hockey’s Kings and soccer’s Galaxy.
Dan Beckerman, the company’s chief financial officer who joined AEG more than 15 years ago, will replace Leiweke, according to the statement.
“From the very beginning of the sales process, we have made it clear to our employees and partners throughout the world that unless the right buyer came forward with a transaction on acceptable terms we would not sell the company,” Anschutz, 73, said in the statement.
Among the bidders for AEG were Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital LLC, which was a partner with Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund; Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong; and Guggenheim Partners, which last year bought baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
None of the bidders offered near the $8 billion sought by Anschutz, people familiar with the situation said earlier this month.
“Whether it’s too expensive is in the eye of the beholder,” Barrack, Colony’s founder and chief executive, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart” hosted by Trish Regan. “We just didn’t get this to his expectations.”
Anschutz Co., AEG’s Denver-based parent, hired Blackstone Advisory Partners (BX) to assist with the sale. Anschutz is worth $10 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
Anschutz will resume a more active role in the company, which is second in the concert business to Live Nation Entertainment Inc. (LYV)
AEG’s proposal to build a $1.2 billion football stadium next to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles received city council approval last year. AEG said in the statement that its priority projects are to lure a National Football League team to Los Angeles and complete its collaboration with MGM Resorts International (MGM) to build an arena in Las Vegas.
David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California, said the departure of the “extremely plugged-in” Leiweke, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the company’s future, will hamper AEG’s effort to bring the most popular U.S. sport back to the country’s second-biggest media market.
“It’s very clear that this is going to delay any of their plans regarding Farmers Field and their ability to lure an NFL team,” Carter said via telephone. “Just because AEG is taken off the table for now -- the sale of AEG, en masse -- a single entity, doesn’t mean they won’t parcel off some of the other assets.”
AEG’s downtown stadium proposal has competition from Majestic Realty Co. Chairman Ed Roski Jr., who proposed building a stadium in the City of Industry, 18 miles (30 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. The NFL also has contacted officials at Guggenheim about the possibility of a football stadium at Chavez Ravine, where the Dodgers play.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an e-mailed statement that the league continues to monitor all stadium developments and “remain interested in multiple sites in the Los Angeles area.”
AEG owns and operates 100 venues on five continents. The company produces annual festivals that include the Coachella Music & Arts Festival, the Stagecoach Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Anschutz Corp. has been in the natural-resources business for more than 75 years, according to the website of one affiliate, Anschutz Exploration, which lists involvement in projects in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New York and Texas.
Through its Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the company is the largest operator of lodging, restaurants and retail outlets in U.S. national parks, including Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
Anschutz Film Group made the movie “Ray” about Ray Charles, and his Clarity Media Group owns the Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard.
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