Breaking: Anschutz terminates AEG sale, Leiweke leaves

AEG2.jpgThe sports and entertainment empire has been taken off the market, the company announced. But the real shocker is the sudden resignation of CEO Tim Leiweke. How and why this happened will have to be sorted out, but it's been Leiweke who shaped AEG into a mega-billion dollar force - and who has played a major role in reshaping downtown L.A., with Staples Center, the Nokia Theater, L.A. Live, and most recently, efforts at a downtown football stadium. Let's also not forget his role with the Kings and Galaxy. His lukewarm sendoff in the press release - "We appreciate the role Tim has played in the development of AEG, and thank him for the many contributions he has made to the company" - makes you wonder what really went down. It's hard to believe that this guy will quietly go away. He's only 55 and has been a tenacious lieutenant for Anschutz. That's why this announcement is so unexpected. As for AEG, Anschutz's decision to pull it off the market isn't entirely surprising. Offers were coming in well below what he had been looking for - around $10 billion by several news accounts. The company had been tough to value because of its assets are in so many different businesses (and some are performing a lot better than others). The proposed stadium has been another imponderable. And speaking of the stadium, today's news could seriously derail AEG's plans, considering that Anschutz - at least according to Leiweke - had to be pushed hard into making the commitment. Would be interesting to see if AEG has any escape clause on its agreement with the city. Here's the press release:

The Anschutz Company announced today that it will retain ownership of Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. and terminate the sales process for AEG.

Philip F. Anschutz, as Chairman of AEG, will resume a more active role in the Company, with a particular focus on the Company's world-wide strategy and operations. Dan Beckerman will assume the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company. Mr. Beckerman joined AEG over 15 years ago and previously served as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

Tim Leiweke, who has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of AEG since 1996, will be leaving the Company by mutual agreement. "We appreciate the role Tim has played in the development of AEG, and thank him for the many contributions he has made to the Company. We wish him well in his new endeavors," said Mr. Anschutz.

Ted Fikre, who joined the Company in 1997, will become Vice Chairman of the Company and continue as AEG's Chief Legal and Development Officer, as well as assume responsibility for AEG's Governmental and Media Relations. Jay Marciano, currently President and Chief Executive Officer of AEG Europe, will relocate from London to Los Angeles to assume the role of Chief Operating Officer. Todd Goldstein, who has been with the Company since 2001, recently was elevated to Chief Revenue Officer and will continue in that role. Steven Cohen, Executive Vice President of the Anschutz Company, will serve as AEG's Chief Strategic Officer while retaining his role at AEG's parent company.

Mr. Beckerman, Mr. Fikre, Mr. Marciano, Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Cohen, together with Mr. Anschutz, will constitute AEG's Office of the Chairman.

"From the very beginning of the sales process, we have made it clear to our employees and partners throughout the world that unless the right buyer came forward with a transaction on acceptable terms we would not sell the Company," said Mr. Anschutz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Anschutz Company. "From the very first days of AEG, my vision has been to tie together world class real estate development structured around entertainment venues with premium sports and live entertainment content. In recent years we have developed related businesses to further promote and enhance the performance of AEG's facilities for the benefit of our partners, including our sponsors, artists, consumers and the communities in which we operate. The Company's operations will continue to be run by AEG's experienced senior executive team, most of whom have been with AEG for over a decade. We will continue to set the standards in the industries in which AEG operates, bringing our unique vision and development model to entertainment locations throughout the world."

"Phil's active reengagement in the operations of the Company has brought a renewed spirit and passion to the management team's focus on AEG's next steps" noted Dan Beckerman. "The Company has a number of interesting business opportunities, and the expertise of the management team and our 26,000 employees around the world will allow us to select those prospects that best enhance the Company's performance. Priority projects going forward include the development of Farmers Field adjacent to our L.A. Live campus and the pursuit of our plan to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles, our recently announced initiative to collaborate with MGM to build a new arena in Las Vegas, the acquisition of ownership stakes and the associated refurbishment of several major global arenas in Europe and our ongoing investment in, our ticketing and e-commerce platform, as we expand its capabilities for the benefit of our venues, partners, performers and consumer end-users."

*Updated post

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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