AEG is for sale, round up the usual suspects
There is no shortage of potential suitors for AEG, the entertainment and sports giant whose assets include Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings and the LA Live complex that is up for sale by Anschutz Co., run by reclusive Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz.
The name already on everyone’s lips is Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles billionaire who has already expressed interest in acquiring the AEG empire. In a statement, a representative for Soon-Shiong said he is “keenly aware that AEG is in play” and added that he is “interested in furthering the legacy” of the multifaceted company.
AEG’s assets -- real estate, arenas, concert promotion, sports teams -- are all over the map which means there is no one buyer (besides a rich local billionaire perhaps) that leaps out.
“Does it make more sense for AEG to split up some of the assets, or does it make sense to let someone else buy it and separate the asset classes?” asked sports business consultant Marc Ganis.
“It’s not a one size fits all,” added David Carter executive director of USC’s Sports Business Institute. “The group that is interested in the Galaxy may not be interested in buffing up LA Live.”
For example, Clear Channel, the nation’s largest radio owner, could be interested in AEG’s concert promotion business. Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the Knicks and Rangers and recently bought the Forum here, might want the sports teams and LA Live. Private equity firm Guggenheim, which bought the Dodgers and Dick Clark Productions, might also jump at the chance to own some of AEG’s assets.
And then there is Mark Cuban, the investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks who might try to cherry pick some of AEG’s holdings. Cuban is already in business with AEG on the cable channel AXS.
Ganis dismissed the idea of Cuban coming in, at least on his own.
“Mark is absolutely exceptional, but this would not be the kind of thing he would want to do alone,” Ganis said, adding that he thinks a private equity firm is the best bet.
Although many of AEG’s assets might be of interest to some of the bigger media conglomerates, people close to News Corp., Time Warner Cable and CBS indicate than none of those companies plan to even kick the tires of AEG. Comcast is still digesting NBC.
Since AEG and Anschutz Co. are both privately held, there may be no bidding war for it. If Soon-Shiong has the cash -- his net worth is estimated by Forbes magazine at $7.2 billion -- and is willing to buy the entire company at a price AEG likes, a sale could be done very quickly.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.
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