The "final three bidders" to purchase AEG are a group made up of Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle, Lakers investor Patrick Soon-Shiong and Goldman Sachs; Guggenheim Partners; and ColonyCapital and Qatar Sovereign Fund, according to sources cited by Ray Waddell of BILLBOARD.com. A deal “could be done as soon as the end of March.” However, another source said that the bidders “have not partnered up and yet another round of bids is still to come, and no short-list exists yet.” AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke “declined to mention who the serious bidders were, but did indicate that the field has narrowed.” Leiweke said, “We’re getting down to the final straws here. The kind of people and companies interested are very good, and they share our vision for the future of the company.” Leiweke "did not seem concerned about the long-term future of the company no matter what shape AEG takes under new ownership” (BILLBOARD.com, 1/31). The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Sender, Edgecliffe-Johnson & Gelles note ColonyCapital Founder, Chair & CEO Tom Barrack “has real estate and entertainment expertise and close ties to Qatar," having sold Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in '11 (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/1). A source close to the negotiations said no partnerships have been approved by Blackstone Group, the investment bank handling the transaction. A second round of bids is expected in the coming week and after those proposals are received, Blackstone will allow bidders to team up for final presentations, the source said (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal).
Callaway Golf posted lower sales and a "wider loss for its seasonally slow fourth quarter as the Carlsbad company ends a rough year and takes aim at a turnaround in 2013," according to Mike Freeman of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Callaway's revenues "dipped to $118 million for the quarter, compared with $154 million for the same period" in '11. The company "lost $72.7 million in the quarter, or $1.03 per share, compared with a loss of $1.01 per share a year earlier." For all of '12, Callaway "lost $133 million, or $1.98 a share, on revenue of $832 million." Callaway in '11 "posted a $182 million loss on sales of $887 million." Company President & CEO Chip Brewer said, "To say the metrics are disappointing would be an understatement. Fortunately, I think the bigger story is the turnaround and transformation that occurred during the year." Brewer throughout the year "simplified Callaway’s business" by selling its Ben Hogan and Top Flite brands, which the company acquired in '03 for $174M. He also "got out of a global positioning system venture and licensed the company apparel operations to third parties -- focusing Callaway on its core club and ball businesses." Meanwhile, Brewer "beefed up marketing, including signing endorsement deals" with golfers Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Ryo Ishikawa. Callaway forecasts '13 sales of $850M and "break-even profitability, excluding dividends on preferred shares." The company "did not provide quarterly forecasts" (UTSANDIEGO.com, 1/31). As of presstime, shares of Callaway were trading at $6.57, up 0.08% (THE DAILY).