Every day, AEG President and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke looks out the window of his office near the Staples Center and sees workmen and huge cranes bringing L.A. Live, the massive $2.5 billion sports, entertainment and residential complex, closer to completion,
The project which is running over its construction budget is expected to be the crown jewel of AEG's sprawling sports center and is seen as a key component in the revitalization of downtown.
For AEG, it's a clear sign that the heart and soul of Chairman Philip Anschutz's growing sports and entertainment empire is in Los Angeles. Already the second-largest U.S. sports and live entertainment company, AEG is making a major push to expand its live theater, music and awards show staging presence in conjunction with L.A. Live's arrival.
"This is clearly our operations hub, and it grows even more important as we get closer to the opening of L.A. Live," said Leiweke, who is the right-hand man of the reclusive Colorado billionaire and serves as the public face of AEG. He's been here since 1996, when he arrived to oversee construction of the Staples Center.
Today, Leiweke oversees more than 50 AEG subsidiaries, including two newly formed divisions AEG Facilities and AEG Entertainment with more than 4,000 employees and revenues in excess of $1 billion. Among the holdings that AEG has acquired in the past decade are pro hockey's L.A. Kings, pro soccer's L.A. Galaxy and a minority stake in the NBA's Lakers. AEG also owns two independent film studios, Walden Media and Bristol Bay Productions. AEG's Galaxy made worldwide headlines recently with its $250 million acquisition of soccer star David Beckham.
All of this growth in the sports and entertainment arm of AEG is coming as Anschutz is stepping back from Qwest Communications International, the Denver-based telecom company he founded. Anschutz resigned as a Qwest director last year, and said in a statement that he planned to focus on his other holdings that include, in addition to the sports and entertainment holdings, oil companies, railroads, newspapers and a theater chain.
In the fall, Anschutz sliced his direct holdings in the company to about 66.4 million shares, after selling and donating nearly 80 million shares. He also sold shares in June, July and October of last year. Most recently, on the day after the Beckham deal was announced, Anschutz announced that he was selling 43 million Qwest shares for $297 million.
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