AEG Sale Prompts Speculation About New Owner, Stadium Deal
Sports and entertainment goliath AEG announced it was up for sale Tuesday, spawning speculation about the status of the proposed football stadium and potential buyers of the company whose assets include the Staples Center, LA Live, and the world's second-largest concert-promotion business.
At the top of the list for potential buyers is Los Angeles' wealthiest denizen, billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong. The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a representative for Soon-Shiong said he is "keenly aware that AEG is in play."
AEG's diverse portfolio - which includes ownership of London's O2 arena, Berlin's O2 World arena and a minority stake in the Lakers - could appeal to private equity firms eager to slice and sell distinct business units.
Prospective buyers of AEG will need to maintain the commitments established by AEG, said local observers, and the costs required limit potential candidates.
"There are always investors out there," said Daniel Durbin, Director of the Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society. "There is always money out in the world, as bad as the economy may be. There will be some people who attempt to purchase AEG but it is certainly going to be in the top 1%" said Durbin.
Regardless of the buyers, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brushed aside doubts that the sale of AEG by parent company Anschutz, Co. could undo plans for a football stadium and NFL franchise in Los Angeles.
"Mr. Anschutz has committed to me that football is coming to LA, and Tim Lieweke's done the same," said Mayor Villaraigosa, referring to the owner and CEO of AEG, respectively.
The Mayor emphasized that the City's deal remains firm regardless of the owner of AEG.
"This deal is a deal. Whoever buys [AEG] is going to have to live by the deal," said the Mayor.
Councilwoman Jan Perry echoed the sentiments of Mayor Villaraigosa and deflected any concern that the stadium deal will be upended.
"I believe that the city is well-protected. Anyone stepping in to lead AEG will be held to the same understanding that we have established," said Perry.