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UPDATED: Music & Entertainment Empire AEG Confirmed For Sale, But Who Will Buy?

(UPDATED) AEGLiveDenver-based Anschutz Company has confirmed that its music, sports andentertainment empire, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) is for sale. (Official statement after the jump.) AEG's has under its belt over 100 venues all over the world, including the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the O2 Arena in London, while their concert promotion division (AEG Live) produces popular music festivals like Coachella, Stagecoach, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. AEG Live is the runner up only to Live Nation as a leading concert promoter.

UPDATE:  AEG owner Phil Ansultz has said that we wants to sell the company hole, rather than break it up.  But with a $7-8 billion price tag, who is interested in buying?

The rumor mill is on overdrive with Live Nation the most often named candidate.  But given the tough regulatory battle it faced when merging with Ticketmaster, would a deal go through?

The Wall Street Journal's sources point to real estate group Colony Capital LLC and investment firm Guggenheim Partners LLC a both interested. Guggenheim owns Billboard Magazine publisher and was part of the group that just bought Dick Clark Productions.

Anschutz is a holding company operated by billionaire Philip Anschutz, founder of Denver-based the telecommunications giant Qwest, and this AEG subsidiary could be valued at several billion dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal. Billboard reports that the sports and entertainment firm has "multiple suitors."

"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," said Anschutz president Cannon Harvey in a statement.

Text Of The Official Press Release:

The Anschutz Company and AEG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company, today announced that the Anschutz Company is commencing a process to sell AEG. AEG is one of the most highly regarded worldwide live entertainment and sports platforms, anchored by a unique real estate model that has brought about a transformational effect on major cities throughout the world. The Anschutz Company will undertake the sale to the qualified party best able to reflect the full value of AEG and fully committed to working with AEG’s management team as it pursues its long-term business objectives. With this unique international platform, the new owner of AEG will be able to capitalize on the growing global demand and value of live sports and entertainment content linked to important real estate developments on a worldwide basis.
AEG’s exceptional network of strategically integrated real estate, sports and entertainment assets in key world markets has transformed the business model of live entertainment and sports - and positively impacted whole cities in the process. AEG delivers growth and profitability through its unique combination of venues, content, distribution and services, covering all aspects of production, including content development and ownership, talent management, promotion, ticketing, marketing, and distribution. To assist the Anschutz Company and AEG in the sale process, the Anschutz Company has retained as financial advisors Blackstone Advisory Partners, which recently managed the auction of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cannon Y. Harvey, President of the Anschutz Company, noted “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. This process represents a unique opportunity to maximize value for all concerned and will allow us to assure that, like the Anschutz Company, the new owner will have the financial resources, commitment and vision to support AEG’s management team as it continues to grow the businesses of AEG and the power of its brands. We will conduct this process in a manner that avoids disruption of the day-to-day operations of AEG and its constituencies. The Anschutz Company has the highest confidence in AEG’s potential and its management, and will only undertake a transaction that reflects this confidence.”
Tim Leiweke, President and Chief Executive Officer of AEG, stated, “AEG is a proven innovator in real estate, sports and live entertainment, and is at the forefront of shaping the dynamics of these industries. Live entertainment is the economic driver of the music industry, and fan participation and experience are the cornerstones of professional sports – our platform regularly brings fans, sponsors and world-class talent together to create unparalleled opportunities in both segments. AEG’s model drives significant value and growth across all of our assets by enhancing the overall experience for audiences, artists and teams, as well as bringing tangible benefits to our partners, ranging from sponsors to municipalities, across the globe. With the AEG platform, we are able to successfully undertake transformational projects that revolutionize markets by creating true entertainment destinations for consumers, while positively regenerating neighborhoods through projects such as L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles and The O2 in London.”
Among AEG’s world class assets are: Unparalleled real estate assets, including the L.A. LIVE campus anchored by the Staples Center and Nokia Theater in Los Angeles and The O2 in London, which strategically position AEG in the world’s most important cities for entertainment and music. Additionally, AEG owns and operates “must-play” venues in major entertainment hubs, welcoming over 42 million fans annually to a network of more than 100 arenas, stadiums and clubs in countries on five continents; AEG’s ownership interests in a number of the world’s most storied sports franchises and their related brands, including the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, the David Beckham-led L.A. Galaxy and the 16 times World Champion Los Angeles Lakers that deliver dedicated fan bases to sponsors and partners; and AEG Live, which produces top tours, festivals and special events, including the acclaimed Coachella Music & Arts Festival, Stagecoach and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. AEG Live encompasses all aspects of live contemporary music performance, such as touring, festival, broadcast, merchandise and special events, and owns, operates or exclusively books 35 venues.
Mr. Leiweke emphasized, “Our properties form a virtuous circle of AEG’s leading content, distribution, retail and service businesses, which constantly reinforces the value proposition of our platform and uniquely positions us to execute new, world-class projects that no other company can imagine or attempt. As we look to the future, we will capitalize on our integrated business model to further grow AEG in key cities around the world. Our sports properties and teams are only beginning to take advantage of international expansion, and new growth vehicles such as AXS Ticketing, AXS TV and the real estate holdings associated with our venues have the potential to further accelerate our growth. And of course, 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.”
About AEG: AEG is one of the leading sports and entertainment companies in the world with a network of over 120 owned, operated and programmed venues around the world. AEG is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Anschutz Company. AEG owns or operates many of the world's preeminent entertainment venues such as STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, CA), The O2 (London, UK), The Home Depot Center (Carson, CA), Best Buy Theater (Times Square, New York), Sprint Center, (Kansas City), O2 World (Berlin, Germany), Rose Garden Arena (Portland, OR), Target Center (Minneapolis, MN), Mercedes-Benz Arena (Shanghai, China), MasterCard Center (Beijing, China), O2 World Hamburg (Hamburg, Germany), Allphones Arena (Sydney, Australia) and the Ericsson Globe Arena (Stockholm, Sweden). Developed by AEG, L.A. LIVE is a 4 million square foot downtown Los Angeles sports, residential and entertainment district featuring Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE and Club Nokia, a 54-story, 1001-room convention "headquarters" destination anchored by The Ritz-Carlton & JW Marriott Hotel at L.A., the Ritz-Carlton Residences at L.A. LIVE and Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant WP 24, along with entertainment, restaurant and office space. In addition to overseeing a privately held interest in the Los Angeles Lakers (NBA), assets of AEG Sports include franchises and properties such as the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings (NHL), MLS Cup Champion L.A. Galaxy, two hockey franchises in Europe, the Amgen Tour of California cycling race and Zazzle Bay to Breakers foot race. AEG Live, the company's live-entertainment division, is the world's second largest concert promotion and touring company and is comprised of touring, festival, exhibition, broadcast, merchandise and special event divisions with fifteen regional offices. AEG Global Partnerships, a division responsible for worldwide sales and servicing of sponsorships, naming rights and other strategic partnerships, and AEG Merchandising, a multi-faceted merchandising company, are also core business units of AEG. 2011 brought the launch of, AEG’s ticketing and e-commerce platform, the first phase of AEG’s new entertainment platform that will be the company's primary consumer brand and will also feature mobile services as well as a video content services now in development.

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Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud