AEG's Anschutz wasn't 'desperate seller,' sports analyst says

Philip Anschutz wasn’t a “desperate seller” and bidders for his AEG sports and entertainment giant didn’t meet his price, a leading sports-business consultant said.

Marc Ganis, president of SportsCorp. in Chicago, said he wasn’t surprised that Anschutz called off the sale of AEG on Thursday. It was said that Anschutz was looking to sell AEG for $7 billion or more.

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“Phil Anschutz is not a desperate seller,” Ganis said in an interview. “He is an incredibly smart and savvy businessman and the prospective buyers did not meet the number he was willing to accept.”

Ganis said Anschutz’s desire to sell AEG was primarily driven by financial issues with his holdings in commercial and residential real estate, which had been battered by the recent financial crisis and recession.

Ganis said both the financial and real-estate markets have begun to recover along with the general economy so those pressures on Anschutz may have subsided somewhat.

“The combination of the financial markets getting better and the real estate markets getting a little stronger likely played a role in him pulling it off the market,” Ganis said.

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The other big news Thursday was the departure of AEG’s longtime chief executive, Tim Leiweke.

Ganis said he wasn’t surprised by the management shake-up and he said rumors of Leiweke’s exit had circulated for months prior to Anschutz putting AEG on the block last September.

Leiweke should have his pick of other high-profile jobs in the sports and entertainment field given his solid track record, industry experts said.

“I would expect Tim to fall on his feet as a CEO somewhere soon or he could use his experience to get an ownership position somewhere,” Ganis said.


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