This is the second round of bidding for Philip Anschutz’s collection of live entertainment businesses. But nobody outside of the AEG process seems certain about who’s participating. It’s widely believed that Blackstone Advisory Group, which is handling the auction, is weighing offers from billionaire Ron Burkle in a partnership with Patrick Soon-Shiong and Goldman Sachs, from Guggenheim Partners, and from Colony Capital with the Qatar Sovereign Fund. The Financial Times says that Westfield shopping center group and OneWest Bank’s Steven Mnuchin also are in. But Billboard’s veteran reporter Ray Waddell, who specializes in the live entertainment business, reports that he also hears that “bidders have not partnered up and yet another round of bids is still to come, and no short-list exists yet.” Last month Waddell interviewed AEG chief Tim Leiweke who said that the process had dragged out because “more people were interested than we ever imagined.” He added, though, that “We’re getting down to the final straws here.” All that was left was to “get Mr. Anschutz and [potential buyers] together on the right deal.” Outsiders expect the winner to pay at least $8B for AEG.
The sprawling sports and entertainment operation includes more than 100 global arenas and stadiums, numerous sports teams worldwide and is No. 2 in the world behind Live Nation in live concert promotions. In Southern California alone it has controlling stakes in downtown LA’s Staples Center and the adjacent LA Live complex, the Lakers and the Kings, the Coachella music festival, and Carson’s Home Depot Center and its soccer tenants the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. It also is the driving force behind Farmers Field, the proposed downtown football venue that would draw at least one NFL franchise to the city.