Since billionaire entrepreneur Phil Anschutz announced on Monday that he was selling his sports and entertainment business AEG, the news has sparked the interest of several media and private equity firms looking to capitalize on the deal.
According to CNBC, Liberty Media Corp, Guggenheim Partners LLC, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, Bain Capital LLC and Colony Capital LLC are just a few of the firms that are willing to partake in a garage sale that could rake in around $6 billion for Anschutz and company.
Anschutz, who is already worth a reported $7 billion, announced the auction of Anschutz Entertainment Group on Tuesday, saying that he is looking for a partner to take on the sporting and music entertainment presenter.
A subsidiary of the Anschutz Corporation, AEG is the world's largest owner of sports events and sports teams, including the L.A. Galaxy soccer team and a stake in the L.A. Lakers basketball team.
Sources who work closely with the finances of the Los Angeles based company tell CNBC that it could fetch between $6 billion and $8 billion in a sale, but has asked for at least $7 billion. AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke declined to confirm the price tag but said a deal would be in the multibillion dollar range.
"The Dodgers were supposedly going to be sold for a billion dollars," Leiweke, referring to the $2 billion acquisition of the L.A. baseball team by a Guggenheim Partners-led group earlier this year, told CNBC. "We will get a premium because you don't find those kinds of real estate developments anywhere else. This is more unique than the Dodgers."
"When we started on this path 15 years ago with Anschutz, he made it very clear at the time that this is about an equity play," Leiweke added. "He is not a man that has a huge ego. This has never been about toys; this has always been about business."
As Blackstone Advisory Partners, AEG's investment banker, begins contacting potential bidders over the next few weeks, potential buyers are to include sovereign funds, private equity, large pension funds and strategic partners. According to CNBC, which cites people with knowledge of the process, some have already said they would be interested.
From an outside perspective, some analysts familiar with the potential buyers are looking at the size of AEG’s diverse portfolio and are predicting a massive garage sale post acquisition.
Breaking up AEG in separate units would essentially result in a holding company for the sports assets including the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and another holding real estate that includes its London 02 entertainment district.
CNBC reports that Guggenheim, which recently bought Dick Clark Productions in addition to its Dodgers acquisition, could express interest, as well as Colony Capital, the Los Angeles-based private equity fund whose assets include the Miramax film studio.
In addition, John Malone's Liberty Media is also considered to be participating in talks, although if Liberty participates in the sale, it would likely be in concert with private equity, one source familiar with the situation told CNBC.
Liberty owns a 21 percent stake in Live Nation Entertainment Inc, a rival concert promoter to AEG, and would likely need regulatory approval.
Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain also reportedly have preliminary interest in AEG.
Once to sale is kicked off, CNBC reports that it will be treated as a classic two-step M&A sale process, where initial indications of interest will be taken from prospective buyers, leading to more serious contenders. The company hopes to wrap up a deal by the first part of next year.