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Anschutz Group Acquires Promotion Firm

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Billionaire Philip Anschutz has quietly negotiated a deal to buy a concert promotion firm as part of an effort to raise his profile in the national concert business.

Anschutz Entertainment Group, which controls Anschutz’s sports and marketing operations, has purchased Concerts West Ltd., a 2-year-old firm owned by veteran promoters John Meglen and Paul Gongaware.

Separately, the entertainment company is in talks to buy a second promotion firm, Goldenvoice, the last major independent promoter in Los Angeles, sources said.

The deals position AEG to begin linking together a network of arenas to compete against concert juggernaut SFX for national tours.

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“I think that SFX knows we will be a formidable player in the music business,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, president of AEG. Leiweke also will become co-chairman of Concerts West with former MCA Records chief Irving Azoff.

SFX became the world’s biggest concert promoter in just three years, after spending $2 billion to buy up more than 120 concert venues and dozens of promotion firms.

Many of SFX’s biggest venues are outdoor amphitheaters; Anschutz wants to dominate indoor arenas. AEG owns three arenas--including Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Great Western Forum in Inglewood--and is negotiating to build more in London and Berlin.

The new concert division will bid for national tours it can run through a network of arenas in other cities. No single promoter now represents the arenas in the competition for national tours.

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“When you look around, there’s no one looking out for the arenas,” said Azoff. “There’s a void in the business.”

Executives said they plan to promote six to 12 national tours in their first year of operation, but want to avoid acts with explicit lyrics or lewd stage shows.

“We’re not interested at all in controversy,” Leiweke said.

Concerts West most recently handled tours by such acts as Andrea Bocelli, Mariah Carey and Dixie Chicks, in some cases splitting the job with SFX or House of Blues, the other major national promotion firm. But Meglen said it didn’t have the money before to bid on other tours.

Anschutz “is now going to give us the funding and the capital that we need to basically expand on a global basis,” Meglen said. “To me this plan was so apparent, you’d have to be blind not to see it.”


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