(Changes characterization of NBA review of buyers in paragraph
By Ronald Grover and Soyoung Kim
LOS ANGELES, March 1 Phil Anschutz may come up
with a shortlist Of potential buyers for the Anschutz
Entertainment Group within weeks, as negotiations continue over
the value of the billionaire's sports and real estate empire,
people familiar with the bidding told Reuters on Friday.
Colony Capital LLC, Guggenheim Partners LLC and Los Angeles
biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong made second-round bids
in February for AEG and remain in discussions about a potential
deal, the people said.
The bidders have all submitted non-binding offers of under
$7 billion for AEG's assets, including sports teams, arenas and
a music touring business. Colony Capital would bid along with
Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.
The bidders and AEG are about $1 billion apart on price,
according to one of the people, although a disparity is not
unusual with companies that own sports teams, which are
difficult to value.
Anschutz's adviser, Blackstone Group LP, is looking
for a price in the high single-digit to low double-digit
billions, the people said.
The current bidders could yet team up to increase the size
of their bids, though Anschutz and his advisers must approve any
change in ownership groups, the people added. No decision has
been made on how an ownership group would be structured, that
Anschutz, whose company controls the National Hockey
League's L.A. Kings and two Major League Soccer teams, would be
required to go to U.S. sports leagues for approval once
preferred bidding groups are identified.
It is possible that more than one party could be presented
to the leagues for approval, one of the people said.
The leagues will vet potential buyer groups for legal or
other issues that would make individuals unfit to own a team
under its rules, and would also assess a buyer's financing,
according to Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports
"It's hard to see bidders like this not being approved, but
it can happen," said Ganis.
The bidders likely would get a less intensive review from
the National Basketball Association to take over AEG's minority
stake in the Los Angeles Lakers, Ganis added.
AEG has also developed more than 100 entertainment venues
globally, in some of the world's largest cities from Los Angeles
and London to Berlin and Shanghai. These include the Staples
Center in Los Angeles, The O2 Arena in London and the
Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
AEG generates $350 million a year in earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to one
person who has seen the private company's financials. The person
puts its value under $7 billion based on multiples being used by
The company has also won Los Angeles city government
approval to build a $1.2 billion stadium that includes $314.6
million in construction bonds, backed by taxes and other revenue
from the project. Stadium construction is dependent on AEG's
ability to convince the National Football League to relocate a
"We are not going to comment either on the identities
of bidding parties or values being proposed by bidders during
the sales process," said Robert Siegfried, a spokesman for
Anschutz. He declined to elaborate.
The NHL and MLS declined to comment on their vetting process
or potential bidders.
(Reporting by Ron Grover in Los Angeles, additional reporting
by Nadia Damouni; Edited by Edwin Chan and Lisa Shumaker)