The latest owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers have caught the Hollywood bug.
After leading the record $2.15 billion purchase of the Dodger baseball team, Guggenheim Partners recently added a stake in Dick Clark Productions to its portfolio.
Now, Marketplace has learned that the financial-services group is pursuing its biggest sports and entertainment prize yet: Anschutz Entertainment Group, which helped revive downtown Los Angeles by building the Staples Center arena, L.A. Live theater, hotel and restaurant complex and which is nearing local approval for a billion-dollar football stadium.
People informed about the matter told Marketplace that Guggenheim plans to bid for AEG. Denver-based Anschutz Co. confirmed Tuesday it is selling AEG, a juggernaut that also owns the National Hockey League champions Los Angeles Kings, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, music festivals and dozens of stadiums and arenas, including the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
According to one person familiar with the bidding plans, Guggenheim’s investor group includes Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles billionaire who unsuccessfully bid for the Dodgers against Guggenheim. Dr. Soon-Shiong owns a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team (as does AEG).
An AEG sale is expected to reap billions of dollars, and a bid by Guggenheim marks another ambitious foray into the risky world of sports and entertainment. In the Dodger deal, the Guggenheim-led group outbid its nearest competitor by half a billion dollars and has since spent millions more to sign star players. Yet the Dodgers may not even make the playoffs this year.
According to its website, privately-owned Guggenheim manages assets of more than $160 billion. That includes pension money, which normally seeks more conventional investments, such as stocks and bonds. Executives at Guggenheim couldn’t be reached for comment late Tuesday.
Dr. Soon-Shiong is a South African-born physician, medical entrepreneur and philanthropist. His representative confirmed Dr. Soon-Shiong’s interest in bidding for AEG in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. Guggenheim wasn’t mentioned.
News of the AEG sale emerged at a delicate moment for the sports conglomerate. Just last week, the Los Angeles city planning commission approved AEG’s football stadium, which is designed to lure back a National Football League team. But the project has aroused concern about traffic congestion and pollution. The city council is due to vote on final approval in the coming weeks.