In a conference call this afternoon, the man who never talks with reporters elaborated a bit on his decision to pull AEG from the market. Anschutz said he was concerned about the "noise" being created concerning the company's value (perhaps another way of saying he wasn't getting what he thought AEG was worth). The highest offer, according to several news reports, was around $7 billion - $3 billion short of the ballpark number Anschutz was said to be initially looking for. Anschutz didn't talk numbers during the conference call, but he did say, "I have always said to anyone who cares to listen that this sale would be premised on a combination of things: the right price, the right buyer, the right terms." As for CEO Tim Leiweke's departure, Anschutz said the decision was by "mutual agreement" (the WSJ, citing sources, says disagreements between the two caused the sales process to founder). One obvious problem: Anschutz wanted to sell AEG as a whole instead of in pieces and that meant potential buyers having to value many different enterprises, some faring better than others. But beyond that, he was not desperate to unload the properties, especially since his other assets are starting to rebound. And unlike the CEO of a publicly traded company, Anschutz is not beholden to a board or group of shareholders. In other words, he can do whatever the hell he wants. From Billboard:
Had they chosen to break the company up, which apparently was never on the table, the story would likely be different. Some investors were most interested in AEG Live, which is in its best year ever with tours by Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney and others. But touring is cyclical based on who's touring and tricky pricing, as opposed to the more consistent hard value of top-shelf arenas and the sports tenants that inhabit them. AEG's real estate assets drive the model that Leiweke steered, and that is where the most value and upside lies. AEG arenas alone are estimated to be worth more than $5 billion in today's market, and AEG either owns these venues outright or has long-term operating leases in place in high-profile markets around the world. The entire venue portfolio of arenas, theaters, stadiums and clubs on five continents exceeds 100 buildings, with 42 million fans visiting annually, according to AEG.