* Soon-Shiong seeks more investors for bid group -sources
* Guggenheim won bid for the L.A. Dodgers in May
* Group will also include local investors -source
* AEG CEO to face questions from city council committee
(Adds background on Guggenheim, details on Leiweke)
By Ronald Grover and Nadia Damouni
LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK, Sept 24 Los Angeles
billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has joined forces with financial
services firm Guggenheim Partners to make a bid for Anschutz
Entertainment Group, the sports and real estate company,
according to three sources with knowledge of the deal.
Soon-Shiong, whose fortune is estimated at more than $7.2
billion, is also expected to bring in additional partners to
join the group, the sources said. Guggenheim recently led a
local group in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball
AEG's assets include the Los Angeles Kings professional
hockey team, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and more than 120
sports or entertainment venues around the world.
Founded by Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz, AEG is close to
breaking ground on a $1.2 billion football stadium in downtown
Los Angeles. The project is awaiting a commitment from a
National Football League team to relocate to the facility.
Soon-Shiong, an avid sports fan who owns a small piece of
the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Lakers, is
particularly interested in bringing a professional football team
to Los Angeles, and aims to buy a team or encourage one to move
so it can play in the new stadium, said one source.
None of the sources were authorized to speak publicly
because the talks are private.
AEG, which is operated by its president, Tim Leiweke, said
on Sept. 18 that it was exploring a sale of the company and had
retained Blackstone Advisory Partners. [ID:nL1E8KJ8ZW]
Blackstone is assembling a list of potential buyers and is
expected to provide interested ones with financial information
in the next few weeks, a person close to the bidding told
Reuters last week.
Leiweke is expected to answer questions on Monday in front
of a city council committee about his company's impending sale
and its impact on the plan to build the NFL stadium.
A spokesman for Soon-Shiong and a spokeswoman for Guggenheim
had no comment. AEG's spokesman also declined to comment.
L.A.'S WEALTHIEST MAN
Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and onetime professor at UCLA's
Medical School, created and sold two pharmaceutical companies
for a combined $8.6 billion. He is believed to be the wealthiest
person in Los Angeles, according to Forbes magazine.
This spring, Soon-Shiong and hedge fund billionaire Steven
Cohen were among the unsuccessful bidders for the Dodgers.
Soon-Shiong is also a 5 percent owner of the NBA's Lakers,
which required him to win approval of the league. The AEG buyer
will need NBA approval as well because AEG also owns a small
stake in the Lakers.
Soon-Shiong intends to put together a broad group of local
investors, similarly to how Guggenheim assembled its $2 billion
purchase of the Dodgers in May, said one of the people familiar
with his plans. That investor group included basketball great
Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Soon-Shiong
attended the New York Giants-Carolina Panthers NFL game last
week as a guest of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. The Panthers
owner is the former chairman of the NFL’s stadium committee.
In a statement to the Times earlier in the week, a
representative of Soon-Shiong wrote: “Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is
keenly aware that AEG is in play. We have the utmost respect for
Phil and Tim and what they have accomplished in entertainment
and sports and in revitalizing the downtown community."
“We clearly are interested in furthering this legacy for Los
Angeles,” the statement added.
AEG owns entertainment venues in 17 of the top 50 U.S.
markets, according to its website. It owns the Los Angeles
Galaxy Major League Soccer team, possibly best-known for star
David Beckham, and AEG Live, which promotes concerts and other
Guggenheim has more than $160 billion in global assets under
management, according to its website.
Soon-Shiong, 60, has been increasingly active in civic
causes. Born in South Africa to Chinese immigrant parents, he
has made large donations to two Los Angeles-area hospitals,
including one to reopen the problem-plagued Martin Luther King
Jr. hospital in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. His
family foundation has pledged $1 billion to create a national
healthcare information highway.
Last year, he founded NantWorks, a venture that aims to use
ultra-low power semiconductor technology and super-computing to
improve education, healthcare and other social services.
(Reporting by Ronald Grover in Los Angeles and Nadia Damouni in
New York editing by Jonathan Weber, Andrew Hay and Matthew
Keywords: AEG SOONSHIONG/
(C) Reuters 2012. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of
Reuters content, including by caching, framing, or similar means, is
expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters
and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of
the Reuters group of companies around the world.