By Ronald Grover and Nadia Damouni
Los Angeles/New York Sept 24 (Reuters) - Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong is putting together an investor group to make a bid for Anschutz Entertainment Group, the LA-based 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, has joined forces for the AEG bid with private equity firm Guggenheim Partners, which recently led a local group in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball club. Soon-Shiong and Guggenheim are expected to bring in additional partners, two of the sources said.
AEG's assets include the Los Angeles Kings pro 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 new $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 Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, 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.
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. 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.
A spokesmen for Soon-Shiong and a spokeswoman for Guggenheim had no comment. AEG's spokesman said it does not comment on what he called "rumor and speculation".
Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and one-time 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 Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, which required him to be approved by the National Basketball Association. 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 in a similar fashion to the one Guggenheim assembled for the $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 Sept. 21 that Soon-Shiong attended the New York Giants-Carolina Panthers 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 web site. 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 live events.
Guggenheim has more than $160 billion in global assets under management, according to its web site.
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 hospital in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods. His family foundation has pledged $1 billion to create a national health care information highway.
Last year, he founded NantWorks, a venture that aims to use ultra-low power semiconductor technology and super-computing to improve education, health care and other social services. (Reporting By Ronald Grover in Los Angeles and Nadia Damouni in New York. Editing by Jonathan Weber and Andrew Hay)
Better Know A Billionaire: LA Edition
#10: Tamara Gustavson ($2.7 B)
<strong>How she made her money</strong>: Her father, B. Wayne Hughes, founded Public Storage. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/tamara-gustavson/" target="_hplink">Forbes notes</a> that Tamara Gustavson first appeared on the list last year, when her father started disbursing his assets to his heirs. She served as the Vice President of Administration at the company <a href="http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=27530473&privcapId=3585173&previousCapId=305520&previousTitle=PUBLIC STORAGE" target="_hplink">from 1978 to 2003</a>. <strong>In the news for</strong>: In 2011, <a href="http://uscnews.usc.edu/university/officials_attend_mckay_center_groundbreaking.html" target="_hplink">Gustavson attended</a> the groundbreaking of USC's multimillion dollar John McKay Center for the college's football team. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: Gustavson is active with the the HollyRod Foundation, an organization founded by former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete and his wife, actress Holly Robinson Peete to help people with autism, Parkinson's disease. She also served on the board of directors of the USC-CHLA Institute for Pediatric Clinical Research from 2004-2008. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: The USC alum was elected to the USC <a href="http://uscnews.usc.edu/university/board_of_trustees_elects_three_members.html" target="_hplink">Board of Trustees in 2010</a>.
#9: Haim Saban ($2.9 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: Saban is most famous for bringing the<a href="http://www.saban.com/html/team/saban.html" target="_hplink"> Mighty Morphin Power Rangers</a> to the United States. Along with Rupert Murdoch, he then used his earnings to acquire the Fox Kids Cable Network and eventually sell it <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/disney-snares-fox-family-for-53-bln" target="_hplink">to Disney for $5.3 billion</a>. <strong>In the news for</strong>: Saban is known for his staunch support of Israel, and he <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/02/201221584750141923.html" target="_hplink">has been accused</a> of using his media companies to spread neoconservative views. His Spanish-language television network, Univision, recently broadcast a report claiming that Iran is using Latin America as a base for terror plots against the US. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: Besides being a record-setting <a href="http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118051017" target="_hplink">donor to the Democratic party</a>, Saban and his wife Cheryl have <a href="http://www.chla.org/site/c.ipINKTOAJsG/b.3579339/k.3EE2/Cheryl_and_Haim_Saban.htm" target="_hplink">also donated millions</a> to Children's Hospital Los Angeles. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: Saban <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0536805/" target="_hplink">owns the rights</a> to thousands of children's television theme songs, including "Inspector Gadget," "X-Men," and "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe."
#8: Steven Spielberg ($3 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: Arguably the most successful director in Hollywood history, Spielberg made his fortune with big hits like "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," the Indiana Jones series, and "Jurassic Park." He's continued to build on that fortune in his role as DreamWorks studio head, producing major franchises like "Transformers." <strong>In the news for</strong>: Spielberg has been making a big push into television, but his expensive Fox dinosaur show "Terra Nova" <a href="http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Steven+Spielberg+Terra+Nova+dust/6266218/story.html" target="_hplink">was just cancelled</a> after its first season. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: With the profits from his film "Schindler's List," Spielberg established the <a href="http://www.righteouspersons.org/index.php/about-the-foundation/history-a-mission" target="_hplink">Righteous Persons Foundation</a> to strengthen Jewish identity in the US. He has also supported causes like (RED) and the <a href="http://www.startribune.com/templates/Print_This_Story?sid=36404559" target="_hplink">Bush Clinton Katrina Fund</a>. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: In the 1970s, Spielberg made a bet with his good friend George Lucas to swap 2.5% of the profits on their upcoming films. Spielberg's film was "Close Encounters of the Third Kind;" Lucas's film was "Star Wars." Needless to say, Spielberg came out on top in the bet, <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/television/a-reel-treat-jawing-spielberg-article-1.267390" target="_hplink">even though he lost</a>.
#7: Kirk Kerkorian ($3.3 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: After serving as a pilot in World War II, he founded Trans International Airlines and later sold it for millions in profit. In the 60s, he began to acquire and build casinos and hotels in Las Vegas. He's now known as a casino mogul, despite also profiting from investments in other industries. <strong>In the news for</strong>: In 2010, Kerkorian was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/22/kirk-kerkorian-to-pay-102_n_772768.html" target="_hplink">ordered by a court to pay more than $10 million</a> in back child support and an additional $100,000 every month for a child that isn't biologically his. Her mother had faked a DNA test to defraud Kerkorian, and the biological father turned out to be Hollywood producer Stephen Bing. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: His organization, Lincy Foundation, is named after daughters Linda and Tracy. It supports entrepreneurship in Armenia and cancer treatment centers in Las Vegas, notes <a href="http://images.businessweek.com/ss/08/11/1124_biggest_givers/20.htm" target="_hplink">Businessweek</a>. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: Born in Fresno, California to Armenian immigrants, Kerkorian <a href="http://www.1st100.com/part3/kerkorian.html" target="_hplink">dropped out of school</a> in eighth grade to become a professional boxer. During World War II, he learned how to fly planes and served under the British Royal Air Force.
#6: Steven Udvar-Hazy ($3.4 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: While he was still a college student at UCLA, he brokered his first airplane deal between two airlines, reports <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/educate/college/careers/profile3-28-05.htm" target="_hplink">USA Today</a>. It was the start of a successful airplane leasing business that would revolutionize the aircraft industry. <strong>In the news for</strong>: In 2010, six months after retiring from Century City's International Lease Finance Corp., a company he founded, he announced a new airplane leasing company with the purchase of 51 airbus liners, reports the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/20/business/la-fi-aircraft-leasing-20100720" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>. At the time, it was estimated that the deal was worth $4.4 billion. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: In 1990, <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/century-roar-and-buzz.html" target="_hplink">he donated $60 million to the Smithsonian</a> to create a hangar to showcase airplanes and spacecraft near the Dulles Airport called the Steven Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. He later increased that gift to make the total $65 million. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: During college, Udvar-Hazy was getting his airplane consulting firm off the ground while also <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/educate/college/careers/profile3-28-05.htm" target="_hplink">holding down two life-guard jobs</a>.
#5 (tie): Jin Sook & Do Won Chang ($4 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: The couple owns one of the largest fast-fashion chains around the globe, Forever 21. Their two daughters, Linda and Esther Chang, help run the company. <strong>In the news for</strong>: The company has been marred with criticisms about their <a href="http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=792" target="_hplink">factory conditions</a> and accused of <a href="http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/copy-cat-forever-21-steals-speckles-the-loss-cat-concept-from-atlanta-artist-r-land-3/" target="_hplink">stealing clothing designs</a>. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: Because the Changs are born-again Christians, "John 3:16" is printed on the bottom of every Forever 21 shopping bag. Do Won Chang also founded Chang 21 Foundation, which gives money to faith and missionary groups, notes the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/31/business/la-fi-himi-chang-20100731" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: Another inspiring fact. The power-couple founders have humble origins. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/jin-sook-do-won-chang/" target="_hplink">Forbes</a> notes that husband Do Won held down three jobs when the couple first came to LA from Korea: as a janitor, gas station attendant and coffee shop worker. Do Won Chang never went to college, and he was able to send both of his daughters to Ivy League schools.
#5 (tie): Jeronimo Arango & Family
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: Along with his brothers Manuel and Placido, Jeronimo creates discount supermarket chains that he was later able to sell to Wal-Mart, according to <a href="http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/10/918F.html" target="_hplink">Forbes</a>. Arango's family is the reason that Wal-Mart, known as Wal-Mex, came to Mexico. <strong>In the news for</strong>: Arango's Acapulco home, known as "Malbrisa," was designed by John Lautner in 1973. It has a "sky moat" and a massive poured concrete shade. Check out <a href="http://www.moderndesigninterior.com/2011/05/john-lautner-arango-house-casa-marbrisa.html" target="_hplink">gorgeous photos here</a>. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: He founded the Mexican Center for Philanthropy in 1989. In a <a href="http://www.alliancemagazine.org/node/1328" target="_hplink">2004 interview</a>, he said it was because "more needed to be done to promote this culture of getting involved and giving some of your time, talent and money for the benefit of the common good - a culture of participation and generosity." One of its focuses is corporate social responsibility. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: Arango was born in Spain and studied art and literature in the United States. However, he never completed his college degree. A citizen of Mexico, Arango now lives in Los Angeles. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zol87/5018909766/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Zol87</a>
#4: Sumner Redstone ($4.4 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: Redstone is the former CEO of Viacom, a media network <a href="http://www.viacom.com/ourbrands/pages/default.aspx" target="_hplink">whose channels</a> include MTV, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central. <strong>In the news for</strong>: Now the executive chairman of the Viacom board, Redstone recently made waves with his <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203961204577267820855905192.html" target="_hplink">wavering decision</a> to attend the yearly shareholder's meeting this week. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: In 2007, Redstone <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/68549.php" target="_hplink">committed $105 million</a> in grants to three hospitals across the nation; one of them was the Cedars-Sinai Prostate Cancer Center in Los Angeles. In 2010, <a href="http://uscnews.usc.edu/health/keck_school_receives_24_million_gift.html?view=full" target="_hplink">he gave $24 million</a> to USC's Keck school of medicine. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: At the end of March, Redstone will receive his own star on the Hollywood Boulevard walk of fame, joining the ranks of other media moguls like Ted Turner, Michael Eisner, Louis B. Mayer and Darryl Zanuck, notes the <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2012/03/redstone-to-skip-viacom-annual-meeting-but-still-gets-a-walk-of-fame-star.html" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>.
#3: David Geffen ($5.5 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: Working his way up from the mailroom in William Morris, Geffen founded two massively successful record labels and eventually <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/david-geffen" target="_hplink">became a founding investor</a> in Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios. <strong>In the news for</strong>: Geffen <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/prop-8-defeated-rob-reiner-bruce-cohen-dustin-lance-black-292021" target="_hplink">helped finance</a> the legal team that took on Prop 8 (and won) in Federal court. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: <a href="http://www.lgbtfunders.org/seekers/view.cfm?orgID=178" target="_hplink">The David Geffen Foundation</a> gives money to HIV/AIDS, Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Jewish Issues and the arts. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: Because William Morris only hired college graduates, Geffen lied on his application and pretended he'd attended UCLA. When the company then checked with the UCLA registrar, Geffen simply intercepted the letter in the mailroom and <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=sKwDcGnGKj8C&pg=PA277&lpg=PA277&dq=geffen+william+morris+letter&source=bl&ots=y0fMD-T2FR&sig=iBEo2oX25XUusdSHFHPdt5eYV3k&hl=en&sa=X&ei=n0xYT8f5OJH9iQLl-cCbCw&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=geffen william morris letter&f=false" target="_hplink">replaced it with a fake</a>.
#2: Eli Broad ($6.3 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: Broad co-founded Kaufman & Broad, which become one of the country's biggest home builders, notes <a href="http://www.forbes.com/profile/eli-broad/" target="_hplink">Forbes</a>. He later bought Sun Life Insurance and sold it to AIG for billions. <strong>In the news for</strong>: attending a recent Los Angeles reading of "8," a pro-gay marriage play. The performance feature George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Jamie Lee Curtis, to name a few. After the show, the 78-year-old man told the <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2012/03/george-clooney-brad-pitt-enact-prop-8-stage-drama.html" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>, "I'm here so that means I support what they're doing." <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: Broad is currently constructing The Broad, an art museum located on Bunker Hill in Downtown LA. He's the city's biggest art patron, having also underwritten the Disney Concert Hall and the Broad Contemporary Art at LACMA. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: In 2011, Broad's foundation <a href="http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/05/eli_broad_52_million_angeles.php" target="_hplink">received $52 million</a> from LA's Community Redevelopment Agency to build a parking lot for the Downtown LA museum. Governor Jerry Brown later closed CRAs across the state because he claimed California could no longer afford them. Instead, <a href="http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jan/31/explainer-the-end-of-redevelopment-agencies/?print&page=all" target="_hplink">Brown argued</a>, money should be directly spent on services like education and public safety.
#1: Patrick Soon-Shiong ($7.2 B)
<strong>How he made his money</strong>: His innovations as a young surgeon led him to leave the practicing medical field and found his own research company. He developed and patented cancer-fighting treatments, and created and sold two huge multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies. <strong>In the news for</strong>: <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dodgers/2012/01/dodgers-bidders-court-richest-man-in-la.html" target="_hplink">Being a potential bidder</a> for ownership of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He already <a href="http://www.nba.com/lakers/news/101018johnsonsellstosoonshiong.html" target="_hplink">owns part of the Los Angeles Lakers</a> and is a 25-year season ticket holder. <strong>Civic Engagement</strong>: Soon-Shiong donated $35 million to help build a new research facility at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica in 2007, and they've given another $100 million since, notes the <a href="http://alumni.arizona.edu/alumni_groups/clubs/aafsaa/events/soon_shiong" target="_hplink">Arizona Alumni association</a>. He has also guaranteed $100 million to help reopen LA County's MLK Jr. Hospital. <strong>Fun fact</strong>: Not fun, but inspiring. Soon-Shiong was born in South Africa to Chinese immigrant parents who left their country during World War II. According to this <a href="http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2003/1006/126_print.html" target="_hplink">2003 story from Forbes</a>, he was the first non-white surgical resident at Johannesburg's General Hospital on staff and earned half the salary his white peers did. His first patient, a white South African man, initially refused to be treated by Soon-Shiong.