SBD/September 19, 2012/Facilities

Anschutz Selling AEG; Plans For Proposed L.A. NFL Stadium Should Not Be Affected

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AEG has been “put up for sale, a move that could reshape the face of sports ownership in Southern California,” according to Hamilton & Vincent of the L.A. TIMES. The Anschutz Co. announced that it is “seeking a buyer for its AEG subsidiary,” which “owns and manages a wide range of sports and entertainment properties,” including the L.A. Live complex, NHL Kings, MLS Galaxy, O2 arena in London, the O2 World Berlin. AEG, which also has a minority stake in the Lakers, has been “negotiating to build a football stadium in downtown Los Angeles in the hopes of luring a professional team from another city.” Those plans are “expected to proceed.” A sale of AEG would “mark one of the biggest sports and entertainment deals on record.” Anschutz Co. President Cannon Harvey said that the process is “in an early stage and no bidders have been identified.” The company is “being advised by the Blackstone Group, the New York investment bank that represented Frank McCourt in his sale of the Dodgers.” A source said that “one potential bidder for some or all of AEG” is Lakers investor Patrick Soon-Shiong. Soon-Shiong “confirmed in a statement” yesterday that he is “interested in pursuing a purchase of the company.” AEG officials said that they “would have to be part of any deal.” AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke said that he and his management team “recently renewed their contracts, which would require any new owner to keep them on or buy them out” (L.A. TIMES, 9/19).

SELECT AEG ASSETS
NHL Kings
The Home Depot Center
Galaxy
Citizens Business Bank Arena (Ontario, Calif.)
Lakers (stakeholder)
Best Buy Theatre (N.Y.)
Dynamo (stakeholder)
L.A. Live (Nokia Theatre)
AHL Manchester Monarchs

AEG Global Partnerships (sponsorship sales,
naming rights, stategic partnerships)

ECHL Reading Royals
AEG Live (concert promotion, special events)
ECHL Ontario Reign
AEG Merchandising
Staples Center
axs (ticketing, e-commerce)
O2 arena (London)
   
SELECT VENUES THAT AEG OPERATES
AmericanAirlines Arena
O.co Coliseum
AT&T Center
O2 World Berlin
Barclays Center
O2 World Hamburg
BBVA Compass Stadium
Oracle Arena
Consol Energy Center
Prudential Center
Farmers Field (proposed)
Rentschler Field
FedExForum
Rose Garden
Jobing.com Arena
Sprint Center
KFC Yum! Center
Target Center
MasterCard Center (Beijing)
U.S. Bank Arena
Mercedes-Benz Arena (Shanghai)
XL Center
   

ALL OR NOTHING
: Anschutz Co. execs yesterday said that they “plan to invite bids from a range of potential buyers, including private-equity firms and global entertainment, leisure or real-estate companies, and expect to wrap up a sale some time next year.” Harvey said that the company “isn't considering selling AEG in pieces.” He said, “We’re focused on selling it whole.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Smith & Das, who first reported Anschutz Co.’s decision to sell AEG, noted the leagues in which company-owned teams play “all would likely need to approve any new owner of AEG’s professional sports holdings” (WSJ.com, 9/18).

FOOTBALL’S FUTURE
: In L.A., Dakota Smith writes, “Despite the assurances from AEG, a sale could complicate plans to build a 72,000-seat stadium in downtown, since the buyer would have to agree to the city's terms over the project.” L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he was aware “for some time” that AEG was going up for sale. Villaraigosa, in a statement, said that he “speaks regularly” with AEG Chair Phil Anschutz and Leiweke. Villaraigosa: “I have the commitment from both of them that this won't affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles in the near future. And so [it] will not affect my support for moving ahead with Farmers Field and the Convention Center site” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/19). L.A. City Council member Jan Perry said, “The city has been well-negotiated and well-protected. I don't think this is a setback.” In California, Scott Reid noted the “reasons behind the decision to sell AEG were unclear” yesterday. What is “certain” is the price tag for AEG will “likely run well into billions of dollars” (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/19). ESPNLA.com’s Arash Markazi noted at some point in the near future, Leiweke will likely “come out and say the day-to-day operations of AEG will not change in the interim and the company remains committed to Farmers Field and bringing the NFL back to Los Angeles.” Markazi wrote, “Of course, that commitment is only as strong as the commitment of AEG's new owner. If that person is just as committed to the project as Leiweke is, it will continue; if he or she isn't, well, it will die as so many NFL stadium proposals in L.A. have over the past two decades” (ESPNLA.com, 9/18).

FINISHING THE JOB
: In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore writes, “I never got the feeling Anschutz truly felt the stadium proposal AEG president Tim Leiweke was pushing on him would ever get as far as it has.” Anschutz “kept telling Leiweke that he had his blessing, while never truly thinking Leiweke would navigate through all the political red tape and potholes in his way to actually get it to this point.” Now that Leiweke has “carried the ball to the goal line, maybe Anschutz isn't as ‘in’ as we thought as he's ready to hand it off to someone who is prepared to carry the ball into the end zone” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/19). Also in L.A., T.J. Simers notes considering how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has “brokered deals in the past,” it would not be a surprise if he has “already met and given his full blessings to Soon-Shiong.” If so, it “makes this mega AEG sale all about football and the construction of a new stadium in downtown Los Angeles.” Anschutz has “never really had an interest in football here.” The stadium has “always been Tim Leiweke's baby,” except for “one itty-bitty problem: He's never been the money guy.” The NFL has had “every chance" to go with Majestic Realty Chair Ed Roski's ready-to-build project in the City of Industry, "but obviously it has been waiting for the downtown project to take shape.” When Anschutz “finally agreed to go all in on the stadium, he took it upon himself to negotiate with other NFL owners without Leiweke's assistance” (L.A. TIMES, 9/19).
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