March 25, 2023

DealBook: Anschutz to Explore Sale of Entertainment Group

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., in April.Damon Winter/The New York TimesThe Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., in April.

5:19 a.m. | Updated

The Anschutz Company has announced that it is looking to sell Anschutz Entertainment Group, a sports and entertainment company.

The announcement, which was made late on Tuesday, did not provide a potential sale price for the company, which has grown into a multiarmed entertainment giant.

Anschutz Entertainment is involved in running facilities like the Staples Center in Los Angeles and events like the Coachella music festival; owning sports teams like the Los Angeles Kings hockey team; and selling tickets through its AEG Live subsidiary.

Anschutz Entertainment is controlled by its namesake billionaire owner, Philip Anschutz, who may still decide against a sale. The Anschutz Company said it had retained Blackstone Advisory Partners to advise on the potential sale.

“This is an appropriate time to transition AEG to a new qualified owner,” Cannon Y. Harvey, the president of the Anschutz Company, said in a statement. “We will conduct this process in a manner that avoids disruption of the day-to-day operations of AEG and its constituencies.”

No timeframe was given about when a potential sale may occur.

Anschutz Entertainment came close to selling about 49 percent of AEG Live to Ticketmaster and Cablevision four years ago, though nothing came of the talks. Ticketmaster instead merged with LiveNation, though the combined entity agreed to license its ticketing software to AEG Live to satisfy regulators.

Anschutz Entertainment is part of the Anschutz empire, whose roots lay in the oil-drilling company that Mr. Anschutz’s father founded. It has since branched out not only into live entertainment but also railroads, news publications and movie theaters.

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DealBook: News Corp. Shares Leap on Potential Split

Shares in News Corporation rose more than 6 percent in morning trading on Tuesday, on reports of a potential plan to split the media empire in two.

Under the terms of the proposed split, the company would spin off its publishing business from its much larger entertainment unit, according to a person briefed on the matter. That would create two corporate entities: an entertainment giant, driven by a movie studio and powerful television networks, and a much smaller publishing unit containing Dow Jones and HarperCollins.

The move would be intended to appease shareholders unhappy with the general tepidness of News Corporation’s stock performance, which has not kept pace with the likes of the Walt Disney Company. While the company’s shares have risen more than 17 percent this year, that increase has been supported in part by an extensive and expensive stock buyback initiative. On Tuesday, News Corporation’s stock hit $21.50 shortly after the opening bell, its highest level since late 2007.

The potential split comes even as a phone-hacking investigation continues to cloud News Corporation’s newspaper business in Britain.

The plan has the support of several News Corporation executives, notably the chief operating officer, Chase Carey, this person said. Mr. Carey said earlier this year that management had considered a split, though at the time he added that nothing had been decided.

The proposal has not been finalized. And while News Corporation’s patriarch, Rupert Murdoch, has softened his longstanding opposition to the plan, he has not signed off on it, the person said.

A number of factors remain to be resolved, including which operations would go into which entity, and — perhaps more important — which executives would head which businesses.

Still, an announcement about the corporate breakup could come as soon as this week, this person said.

“News Corporation confirmed today that it is considering a restructuring to separate its business into two distinct publicly traded companies,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

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