Billionaire Philip Anschutz said he plans to sell his Anschutz Entertainment Group, owner of Los Angeles’ Staples Center and the world’s No. 2 concert promoter.
Anschutz Co., AEG’s Denver-based parent, hired Blackstone Advisory Partners to assist with the sale, according to an e- mailed statement yesterday. AEG, based in Los Angeles, is second in the concert business to Live Nation Entertainment Inc. (LYV:US), which had a market value of $1.71 billion as of yesterday.
AEG has created entertainment districts in London, around the O2 arena, and Los Angeles, where it built Staples, home of the Lakers NBA basketball team and the Kings in hockey. Given its size and global reach, there are few potential buyers, said David Carter, executive director of the Sports Business Institute at the University of Southern California.
“The number of suitors would be small,” Carter said in an interview. “It’s hard to tell who could step up to this size of a deal.”
Led by Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke, AEG developed L.A. Live, a hotel and entertainment complex adjacent to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. In London, the O2 is surrounded by piazzas, bars and restarants as well exhibition space. The company owns and operates 100 venues on five continents, in addition to interests in the Lakers, Kings, and the L.A. Galaxy professional soccer team.
The company may fetch several billion dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported the plans yesterday.
AEG’s proposal to build a $1.2 billion NFL stadium next to Staples Center received city planning approval last week.
The company’s formula of combining live sports, theaters and restaurants with real estate development helps create “true entertainment destinations for consumers,” Leiweke said in the statement.
A decision to sell may hinder AEG’s plans to attract an NFL team to Los Angeles, causing team owners to question Anschutz’s commitment, Carter said.
“They will have to do damage control around the NFL deal,” Carter said. “This will give pause to some NFL owners.”
City officials said the sale of AEG may boost efforts to attract an NFL team.
“Maybe this means it’s more about football than ever before,” Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes part of downtown, said in a telephone interview. “This could be a surge ahead. There is a greater emphasis on football than ever before.”
In a statement, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he had received assurances from both Anschutz and Leiweke that a sale “will not affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles.”
AEG produces annual festivals that include the Coachella Music & Arts Festival and the Stagecoach Festival in Indio, California, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the company said.
Last week, the company formed a venture with Lollapalooza producer C3 Presents to purchase Front Gate Tickets, based in Austin, Texas.
Anschutz, 72, whose interests range from energy and farming to lodging to cinema chain Regal Entertainment Group (RGC:US), is ranked 39th on Forbes magazine’s list of the richest Americans, with wealth estimated at $7 billion.
His public holdings include a 78 percent voting stake in Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest cinema chain, that is valued at $1.35 billion, based on the company’s regulatory filings and stock price.
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 at 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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