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AEG for-sale sign attracts potential bidders

Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles is seen in this undated file photo.
September 19, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Los Angeles billionaire is expressing interest in buying AEG after the entertainment giant announced it was for sale.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, 59, is a doctor, biotech investor and philanthropist who owns a minority share in the Los Angeles Lakers and tried unsuccessfully to buy part of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Forbes has estimated his net worth at $7.2 billion.

"Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is keenly aware that AEG is in play," his representative, Chuck Kenworthy, told the Los Angeles Times. Kenworthy added that Soon-Shiong is interested in furthering this legacy for Los Angeles.

AEG, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Co. owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, has a firm grasp on the L.A. entertainment and sports behemoth. It owns the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Galaxy, L.A. Live - which includes Staple Center and Nokia Theatre - and has part ownership of the Lakers. It also owns the Home Depot center in Carson and has a stake in the Los Angeles Sparks.

AEG has also been working to build a football stadium (Farmers Field) in downtown and bring an NFL team to play in Los Angeles. The question remains, why would the Anschutz Company want to sell off AEG? Anschutz Co. president Cannon Y. Harvey released the following statement:

"Given the success of the management team and employees in establishing AEG as one of the premier real estate development, live sports and entertainment platforms in the world, as well as the value AEG has created with the strategic assets that comprise its platform, this is an appropriate time to transition AEG to a new qualified owner."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Eyewitness News that the sale of AEG will not change plans to bring professional football to the city.

"We've done our due diligence," Villaraigosa said. "We know a deal is a deal. I said that to Mr. Anschutz. I said that to Mr. (Tim) Leiweke (AEG CEO). Whoever buys this team is going to have to live by the deal we negotiated."

Leiweke released the following statement about putting the company up for sale.

"The new owner will have the historic opportunity to benefit from AEG's strategy to reunite Los Angeles with the NFL, as AEG moves forward with its efforts to bring an NFL franchise to Farmers Field to be built at L.A. Live."

In addition to Soon-Shiong, other bidders could include Madison Square Garden Co., which owns the New York sports arena and the Knicks basketball team, sports consultant Marc Ganis told The Los Angeles Times.

The company has already pushed westward, paying $23.5 million earlier this year to buy the Forum in Inglewood, and it has embarked on a $50 million renovation of the facility.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Council said the sale may not change much for local sports franchises.

"I don't think it's really going to make much of a change in the local sports situation," said Robert Kleinhez of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Council. "There are a lot of valuable properties that are up on the market with this move."

The parent company of AEG says it has retained Blackstone Group, which managed the recent auction of the Los Angeles Dodgers, as financial advisors.

It remains unknown why the company is being put up for sale. The price tag is also unknown, but it is likely to push into the billions.

City News Service contributed to this report.


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