Explaining Southern California's economy

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: 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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Dodgers sale: Four bidders remain, Cohen bringing in Tony La Russa, Soon-Shiong

MPR529/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Time is running out for Dodgers owner Frank McCourt to choose a new owner before opening day. The number of bidders is now down to four. There've also been a few surprises late in the game.

We have roughly two weeks remaining before Dodgers owner Frank McCourt must sell the team. Bidders have been dropping like flies, leaving only a March Madness-appropriate Final Four groups. It remains to be seen whether all four will make it to McCourt's final auction — the Major League Baseball owners doing the eliminating will first send the finalist to a vote by all owners.

Regardless, McCourt has to conduct his auction and choose a winner by the first week in April. The money must change hands by April 30.

Here's who's left:

•Hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen, along with sports agent Arn Tellem and new partners Tony La Russa, the baseball great, and Patrick Soon-Shiong, an Angeleno whose personal wealth is estimated at over $7 billion.

•Former Laker great Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten, plus a new financial partner (see below).

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Dodgers sale: The final bidding is shaping up as expected

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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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