Sports Giant, Part Owner of Lakers, Weighs Sale

Phillip Anschutz and the L.A. Kings

(from Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2012) After 15 years, Philip Anschutz, of Anschutz Company, has announced the sale of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).  AEG has grown into one of the most successful leaders in the entertainment and sporting industry.  AEG’s ownership includes the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, and a 30% stake in the L.A. Lakers basketball team.  Beyond sports holdings, AEG also operates the Coachella music festival, the Barclays Center in New York, the Staples Center in L.A., and dozens of sports and entertainment venues across the world.

To assist the company in efficiently selling AEG, Anschutz has hired Blackstone Group as their financial advisor.  Anschutz plans to keep AEG prospering, therefore selling it as a whole, according to Cannon Harvey, Anschutz President.  The sale would include AEG’s plans to build a new stadium, Farmers Field, to be home to National Football League teams.  Just last week, Los Angeles city planning commission showed their support with $1.2 billion dollars in city funds to build the stadium.  L.A. Mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, stands behind AEG’s building plan with assurance from AEG executives that the sale “won’t affect plans for an NFL team to return to Los Angeles in the near future.”

With Anschutz Entertainment Group’s grand size and success, the sale could be worth billions of dollars.  Under the guidance of Blackstone, Phillip and Anschutz executives will now begin to invite bids from new potential owners, including global entertainment companies, leisure or real-estate companies, or private equity firms.  At 72 years old, Phillip has long been ready to pass over the control of AEG to its new owner.  Mr. Tim Leiweke, AEG President and Chief Executive, said in an interview, “This was always part of the game plan.  It’s the right time for Mr. Anschutz to find an exit strategy.”