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AEG's Tim Leiweke says L.A. Kings are not up for sale

Leiweke, chief executive of the company that owns the NHL team and Staples Center, responds to rumors that the Kings are on the market by saying, 'We are neither looking at [nor] in talks to sell.'

January 21, 2011|By Helene Elliott
  • AEG Chairman and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke, left, speaks with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during a Kings game on Jan. 10. Leiweke says the Kings are not for sale.
AEG Chairman and Chief Executive Tim Leiweke, left, speaks with NHL Commissioner… (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters )

Responding to renewed rumors that the Kings are on the market, Tim Leiweke, chairman and chief executive of the club's parent company AEG, said the hockey team has not been put up for sale.

"We get calls all the time. We are neither looking at [nor] in talks to sell," Leiweke said in an e-mail Friday. "Very focused on NFL."

AEG, which used its purchase of the Kings in 1995 as a steppingstone to build a real estate and entertainment empire that includes Staples Center and a part interest in the Lakers, has proposed to build and finance a stadium in downtown Los Angeles that would house an NFL team.

In a report about the Kings in early December, Forbes magazine, citing unidentified bankers, said co-owner Philip Anschutz was "shopping the Kings around" for a good price. On Friday, the website LA Observed, in its LA Biz Observed section, mentioned a report by the research firm Mergermarket that said the Kings are for sale based on "a source familiar with the situation and an industry banker."

Anschutz and partner Ed Roski — now his rival in competition to build an NFL stadium and bring a team here — purchased the Kings out of bankruptcy in October 1995. To become the club's fifth owners they paid $113.25 million and assumed debts left by the previous owners, Joe Cohen and Jeffrey Sudikoff. Forbes' annual valuation of sports franchises estimated the Kings' value at $215 million. Anschutz, who lives in Colorado, hasn't consented to an interview in more than a decade.

AEG built Staples Center, which opened in 1999, and a training center in El Segundo that is shared by the Kings and the Lakers. The company was also behind the L.A. Live complex across the street from the arena.

In 2008 Leiweke acknowledged having spoken with venture capitalist Wycliffe Grousbeck, head of a group that owns the NBA's Boston Celtics, about buying a minority stake in the Kings. Those talks did not lead to an ownership shift.

A hockey source who requested anonymity said he believed Anschutz is willing to sell the Kings but prospective buyers have also wanted a stake in Staples Center and Anschutz is not willing to have less than full ownership of the arena.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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