Explaining Southern California's economy

AEG sale: Guggenheim Partners and Soon-Shiong form bidding group

Government And Business Leaders Speak At Urban Economic Forum In Los Angeles

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Magic Johnson greets Patrick Soon-Shiong during a Urban Economic Forum co-hosted by White House Business Council and U.S. Small Business Administration. They could be partners (sort of) if Soon-Shiong and Guggenheim Partners buy AEG.

Patrick Soon-Shiong — the richest man in Los Angeles, minority owner of the Lakers, and recently thwarted suitor for the Dodgers — has reportedly hooked up with none other than the investors who did the thwarting on his billion-plus bid for the Boys in Blue: Guggenheim Partners.

Or at least the adventurous investing subset of Guggenheim — a relatively staid Chicago-based manager of insurance-fund investments and other assets totaling around $180 billion — made up of CEO Mark Walter and executive Tim Boehly. They formed Guggenheim Baseball Management with Magic Johnson as a front man to snatch the Dodgers away from Soon-Shiong and hedge-funder Steven Cohen at the eleventh hour, with a bid more than $500 million above what anyone had expected.

It was the biggest deal in U.S. sports up to that point. But if Soon-Shiong, Walter, Boehly and whoever else they yank onboard manages to buy all of AEG, the deal would blow the Dodgers' $2 billion away. It could go for anywhere from $4 billion to even as high as $7 or $8 billion.

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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

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

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: And then there were three...

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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

Let's just call this an update. There were four groups bidding for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That number has been cut to three, as Michael Heisley, owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, has been eliminated.

This leaves:

•Billionaire hedge-fund king Steven Cohen (along with partners Arn Tellem, Tony La Russa, and L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong) and his essentially all-cash offer, estimated at $1.4-$1.6 billion.

Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten, along with partner Peter Guber, who owns the Golden State Warriors. Their $1.6-billion bid brings far less cash to the table than Cohen's. Instead, it relies on financing through Guggenheim Partners — and it's unclear whether that funding is as stable as it was when Magic & Co. entered the process.

Stan Kroenke, owner of the St. Louis Rams. The Rams are a factor here, as Kroenke might — might — relocate the team to L.A. to support the Farmers Field Downtown NFL stadium project being developed by AEG. He would have to figure out how to convince Major League Baseball that he intends to NOT own both teams in the same market. AP says that Kroenke can match Cohen's funding. I doubt it. Forbes estimates his net worth at $3.2 billion, less than half of Cohen's $8 billion.

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Dodgers sale: Stanley Gold and Disney family back in

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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

Yesterday, I blogged about the four remaining bidders for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Well, I blogged too fast, as one of the eliminated groups — investor Stanley Gold of Shamrock Holdings, along with the Disney family — is back in. A committee of Major League Baseball owners vetting the bids kicked them out, but a court-appointed mediator has kicked them back in.

Now five groups altogether will move in to a vote by all the MLB owners. After that, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will conduct a final auction to choose the winning bid. This process will be concluded by the first week in April, and the money will change hands by April 30.

MLB disqualified another bid, that of real-estate developer Alan Casden, but that decision was upheld by the medaitor, according to the L.A. Times' Bill Shaikin. 

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