Explaining Southern California's economy

What Larry Ellison brings to the AEG sale — $41 billion

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison demonstrates Or

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. The third-richest man in the U.S. might be a buyer for AEG.

It looks like Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle and number three on the latest Fortune 400 list of the richest Americans, may join the bidding for AEG, the entertainment and sports conglomerate that was recently put up for sale by multibillionaire owner Phil Anschutz.

Ellison's arrival on the bidding scene, when is being managed by the investment bank Blackstone, isn't exactly a surprise. He has shown and interest in sports teams in the past and has been involved with the America's Cup yacht race. In 2010, he bought a tennis professional tennis tournament held each year in Indian Wells.

If, as Reuters reports, his interest is legitimate, he joins a host of potential bidders, including Patrick Soon-Shiong, the richest man in Los Angeles, Guggenheim Partners (a subsidiary of which bought the Dodgers earlier this year for more than $2 billion), and private-equity firms, including Los Angeles' Colony Capital and Mitt Romney's old firm, Bain Capital.

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Los Angeles private-equity firm Colony Capital expected to bid for AEG

Colony-Capital

Colony Capital and its Chairman, Tom Barrack, are reportedly among the bidders for sports and entertainment giant AEG.

Anschutz Entertainment Group, lovingly referred by every sport and concert fan in the Southland as AEG, has put itself up for sale. This is potentially a true humdinger of a deal for Phil Anschutz, the reclusive Denver billionaire who started AEG a decade-and-a-half ago and has — with this considerable assistance of Tim Leiweke, who has run AEG day to day — build the enterprise up into a giant that could be worth anywhere from $4 to $8 billion, according to various reports, speculations, and back-of-the-envelope math on the privately held and somewhat secretive company.

The bidders are lining up, led by the richest man in L.A., Patrick Soon-Shiong, who took a shot at the Dodgers earlier this year and already owns a small stake in the Lakers (AEG owns a third of the team). His $7-billion-plus net worth wasn't enough to get to the finish line, however, even in partnership with $8-billion-plus-net-worth hedge funder Steve Cohen. 

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Q&A: What role is the Blackstone Group playing in AEG sale?

Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman

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Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Blackstone has been hired by AEG to explore a sale of the sports and entertainment giant.

Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) — the huge L.A.-based media, events, and sports company owned by reclusive Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz — is looking at selling itself. In whole? In parts? What does this all mean for an AEG-backed Downtown L.A. NFL stadium? It's unclear. Buyers are already being talked about, with the richest man in L.A., biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, already nominated as a bidder. Makes sense, as he was a late arrival to the bidding war for the L.A. Dodgers, losing out to the eventual new owners, Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Baseball Management.

He's worth around $7 billion. Phil Anschutz is worth around $8 billion. It would be a match of lucky $7 billionaire and the billionaire who has a billion more. 

But I'm getting ahead of myself. AEG has hired Blackstone, an investment bank that managed the Dodgers sale, to work on a potential AEG deal. This isn't as easy as selling the Dodgers, which both had to be sold (former owner Frank McCourt put the team in bankruptcy over a dispute with Major League Baseball and also had to contend with paying his divorce settlement to his ex-wife) and was more concentrated in its assets. AEG is a far-flung holding company that owns pieces of L.A. sports teams, international sports teams, entertainment venues, live events, theaters, and even hotels. 

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Dodgers sale: The final bidding is shaping up as expected

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

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The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

UPDATE: The Disney Family is also still in the running. So a total of five known and two unknown bidders.

The number of bidders for the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers has been narrowed to six, according the L.A. Times. Two are mysterious and unknown. But five aren't. They are:

Steven Cohen, a secretive Connecticut hedge fund billionaire who is probably the richest guy still in the running, with a personal net worth estimated at $8 billion

Tom Barrack of Colony Capital, a $30-billion L.A.-based private equity firm

Magic Johnson, in partnership with Stan Kasten

Jared Kushner, the boy-wonder son-in-law of Donald Trump who has so far distinguished himself by running a money-losing weekly newspaper, the New York Observer

•The Disney Family (haven't heard much about this bid, to be honest)

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Dodgers sale: Rick Caruso and Joe Torre yank bid over parking lots

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

Parking lots? Yes, parking lots. The Dream Team of bidders for the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers, developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, has dropped out of the final rounds of bidding because current owner Frank McCourt insists on keeping the parking lots that surround Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Times has obtained a copy of the letter that Caruso and Torre sent to Major League Baseball on Feb. 17. In it, they leave open the possibility of re-entering the fray. But in retrospect, we should have seen this coming. The parking lots aren't part of the bankruptcy proceeding. But it was widely assumed that McCourt would let them go to sweeten the deal. 

Of course, McCourt is, down deep, a parking lot guy. This is where he made his money, back in Boston before he came west to try his hand an running a storied MLB franchise. Caruso is also a parking lot guy, in a manner of speaking. If he and Torre had been able to buy the Dodgers, he would have let Joe run the team while he set about remaking Chavez Ravine in the manner of the Grove and the Americana at Brand, his beloved, Vegasized shopping meccas in L.A. 

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