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AEG sale to net US$10 billion?

AEG sale to net US$10 billion?
October 11, 2012

Anschutz Co's sale of its Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the global owner and operator of major sport facilities and properties, is expected to attract up to US$10 billion according to industry sources.

AEG released a 25-page information memorandum describing the business on Monday, although this did not include financial information. Financial details are expected to be released to potential buyers by the end of the month, subject to their signing non-disclosure agreements.

Reuters has reported that interested parties include "dozens" of potential buyers including Liberty Media Corp; investment companies such as Guggenheim Partners LLC; private equity firms such as Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, Bain Capital LLC and Colony Capital LLC; and rich individuals such as Los Angeles biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.

Sources close to potential buyers had said last month that the company could fetch between $6 billion and $8 billion in a sale. However, Anschutz Co apparently has a higher price expectation than previously believed.

Anschutz announced last month that it planned to sell AEG and had hired Blackstone Advisory Partners to advise it on the process.

AEG currently owns and operates seven ice hockey clubs in the United States and Europe including the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings the reigning Stanley Cup champion.

AEG also owns Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo as well as Swedish team Hammerby, and holds a stake in National Basketball Association franchise the Los Angeles Lakers.

AEG Facilities' stadium and arena operations are also a major part of the business as operator of the Staples Center in Los Angeles and New York's new Barclays Center, along with London's O2 Arena and Shanghai's Mercedes Benz Arena.

Australia's AEG Ogden is a joint venture between Australian interests and AEG Facilities.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Reuters reporters Nadia Damouni and Paritosh Bansal explain that the idea behind AEG broadly is to own the real estate and draw people to the venues through sporting events and live entertainment."

Reuters sources suggest that AEG owner Phil Anschutz wants to keep the AEG platform in one piece because he believes the company's holdings are more valuable as a group than in individual pieces, with Damouni and Bansal adding "the price expectations and Anschutz's insistence on keeping the platform and the management team in place, however, adds complexity to an eventual sale.

"A buyer would need to write a large check (sic) for the company, including their own cash and bank financing, which could make it necessary for bidders to form consortiums.

"There are no easy comparisons for potential buyers to draw on in valuing the company. What's more, Anschutz will need to get approvals from sports organisations such as the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association to be able to transfer ownership of sports teams."

Speaking when the sale was first announced, AEG Ogden Chairman and Chief Executive Harvey Lister insisted it will be "business as usual" for AEG Ogden.

Lister said he had been aware of the planned sale and had no concern about the development, stating "Phil Anschutz is a legend in our industry and he and (AEG President and Chief Execuitve) Tim Leiweke are to be commended for what they have built.

"Irrespective of who purchases AEG, its AEG Facilities Inc Division will remain a partner and shareholder in AEG Ogden.

"We don't anticipate any impacts or changes to the AEG Ogden business or to the extensive resources available to us from our AEG group of companies worldwide. It might be that the new shareholder will bring additional resources and new opportunities to the table which could prove exciting for us at AEG Ogden."

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