SBJ/20080512/This Week's News

AEG creates sponsorship division, shifts executives

AEG has created a new division to run its worldwide sponsorship sales and services, and, at the same time, promoted two of CEO Tim Leiweke’s longtime top executives.

The company’s fifth division, called AEG Global Partnerships, will be led by President Todd Goldstein, formerly a senior vice president, and Shervin Mirhashemi, promoted to chief operating officer of the division from assistant general counsel. It will start with about 150 employees gathered from other parts of the company, but will likely grow rapidly as AEG expands its reach in China, India, Europe and Russia, areas where Leiweke expects to see explosive growth in the next few years.

In addition, AEG promoted Dan Beckerman to AEG’s new chief operating officer after working for years as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Ted Fikre was promoted to chief legal and development officer from executive vice president and general counsel.

Both men joined AEG in 1997 and are on a new management committee that Leiweke has formed that also includes Kevin McDowell, chief administrative officer; and Andrew Messick, executive vice president for international and chief marketing officer. Leiweke calls the members of the group “men without a country,“ because they work across all of AEG’s divisions.

Leiweke credited Beckerman, McDowell and Messick for honing the plan that led to the formation of the new Global Partnership group, which came after AEG called on executives at two of its primary partners, Wachovia Bank and American Express, for advice on how to structure the new division. It also consulted with Wasserman Media Group.

AEG Global Partnerships immediately takes over a sponsorship revenue stream that the company says will top $250 million this year, and that is expected to continue growing as the company takes control of more facilities, most notably in China and Berlin, where The O2 World arena will open in September.

Leiweke has been thinking about the need for a new sponsorship division for about two years, as he saw that the sponsorship and partnership servicing efforts might be diverging and becoming too individualized in different regions of the world.

“We had to get everything under one roof to get better at implementing and servicing our partnerships,” he said. “This fits with what has become a rallying cry for our company: We have to be as good at servicing as we are at selling.”

Beckerman said the new division will help AEG “focus on the global nature of the business.”

“We realized that we needed a global strategy to optimize what we could bring our sponsors on an international basis,” he said.

Goldstein and Mirhashemi have worked together since they both joined the company about seven years ago, and have been involved with most of the company’s major sponsorship deals.

Goldstein expects the startup phase of the new division to last about six months.

“Getting started is all about integrating the existing people we have in sales and service internationally,” he said. “What we hope is that we’ll soon be better able to offer our partners all of the elements and opportunities that we own or control around the world.”

Mirhashemi, who mostly will be involved in management of the division while Goldstein works on sales, said the key to success for AEG Global Partnerships will be shared knowledge about partners and opportunities. “We are going to put in some real good mechanisms for everyone in this division to communicate frequently,” he said.

He’ll also be working to bring in people who know how business works in different parts of the world, adding, “We have to make sure that we’re creating a central process for our partners.”

As for Beckerman and Fikre, Leiweke said their promotions are both a recognition of some things they are already doing and an assignment of new responsibilities.

AEG’s other four core divisions are AEG Development and Real Estate, AEG Facilities, AEG Live and AEG Sports.

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