AEG auction starts; Anschutz seeks bids in $10 billion range

NEW YORK, Tue Oct 9, 2012 – Billionaire Phil Anschutz has kicked off the auction of his Anschutz Entertainment Group, with an expectation that the sports and entertainment giant should draw bids in the $10 billion range, higher than previously believed, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The initial, 25-page AEG information memorandum that describes the business but has no financial information was expected to go to “dozens” of potential buyers on Monday, the sources said. The initial group of recipients is expected to include rich individuals, rivals, sovereign wealth funds, real estate firms, and private equity firms, they said.

Anschutz is likely to start signing non-disclosure agreements and send out the books with financial details by the end of the month, the sources said.

The list of potential bidders includes trade buyers such as 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 have previously said.

Bidders are likely to need to come up with bids in the “high single digit, low double digit” billion dollars to proceed to the next round, the sources said, signaling that Anschutz has a higher price expectation than previously believed.

Sources close to potential buyers had said last month that the company could fetch between $6 billion and $8 billion in a sale.

“The Anschutz Co has no comment on the sales process beyond its press release announcing the sales process,” it said in a statement on Monday. As a private owner, the Denver-based billionaire has the final say in any deal.

Anschutz said last month that it was exploring a sale of AEG and had hired Blackstone Advisory Partners to advise it on the process.

AEG, which has around 25,000 employees, has developed more than 100 entertainment venues globally, in some of the world’s largest cities such as Los Angeles, London, Berlin and Shanghai. These include the Staples Center in Los Angeles, The O2 Arena in London and the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.

The company also owns sports assets that include the Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer team, possibly best-known for its star David Beckham, and a stake in the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers.