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Concerts West Deal Getting Less Likely

July 18, 2001|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Prospects for the possible sale of Beverly Hills concert promoter Concerts West to rival Clear Channel Entertainment have dimmed considerably, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

The two sides could not agree on key deal points such as how the combined companies would be organized, sources said.

In addition, Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, Concerts West's owner, is concerned about the increasing consolidation of the $1.6-billion concert industry, sources said.

A sale would cement Clear Channel's dominance of the live entertainment industry, eliminating one of its few U.S. competitors and clearing the way for purchases of smaller rivals.

Clear Channel, formerly known as SFX, has spent an estimated $2 billion in the last four years buying up dozens of venues and promotion firms, including Los Angeles' Avalon Attractions.

The sale of Concerts West, the negotiations of which were first reported in The Times last month, would make for an unusual reversal for Anschutz, who entered the concert business less than a year ago. Anschutz's investments include Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings hockey franchise and a minority stake in the Los Angeles Lakers.

The deal being discussed would have provided Clear Channel with the right to promote concerts in certain Anschutz-owned venues, sources said.

Timothy J. Leiweke, president of concerts and sports subsidiary Anschutz Entertainment Group, said that his firm is talking with Clear Channel, but that a deal is not imminent.

"We are not getting out of the live entertainment business," Leiweke said. "Our desire in life is not to back down, our desire in life is to grow, and that includes the promotion of live events in the United States."

Anschutz's concert division has secured control of potential moneymakers such as a three-year Las Vegas stand by superstar Celine Dion. But it had lost out to Clear Channel in the competition to promote tours by such acts as Madonna and Sade.

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