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[BUSINESS] Philip Anschutz - Billionaire's Influence & Invisibility

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  • madchinaman
    Denver Billionaire s Invisible Hand Shapes L.A. Industrialist Philip Anschutz, intensely private and focused beyond belief, is quietly changing the face of
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 23, 2006
      Denver Billionaire's Invisible Hand Shapes L.A.
      Industrialist Philip Anschutz, intensely private and 'focused beyond
      belief,' is quietly changing the face of downtown.
      By Glenn F. Bunting, Times Staff Writer

      On a warm summer evening in 2004, Philip Anschutz greeted British
      Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott at the $150-million soccer
      palace Anschutz had created in Carson.

      After settling into a luxury suite to watch the Los Angeles Galaxy
      battle the San Jose Earthquakes, Prescott asked Anschutz which side
      he was rooting for.

      "He said it didn't matter because he owned the two teams," Prescott
      recalled in an interview in London. At the time, Anschutz controlled
      half of the 10 pro soccer franchises in the U.S.

      The moment captured Anschutz's trademark approach to investments,
      which holds that they are to be dominated, not merely owned. That
      philosophy has made Anschutz an economic force in Los Angeles, as
      important to the region's future, some say, as the William
      Mulhollands and Harry Chandlers of the past.

      Yet in a city known for its entertainment moguls and industrialists
      who seek the limelight, Anschutz is intensely private. He is a
      longtime Denver resident and doesn't even maintain a Los Angeles

      "Philip Anschutz is sort of like the Wizard of Oz," said Los Angeles
      economist Jack Kyser. "He is the man behind the curtain pulling the
      levers. Nobody sees him, yet he has a huge impact on Los Angeles."

      In addition to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Anschutz built the
      $400-million Staples Center, dug a 130-mile oil pipeline from Kern
      County to Wilmington and is pumping $1.8 billion into a sports and
      entertainment district in downtown Los Angeles. He also has
      assembled the nation's largest chain of movie theaters and operates
      a Hollywood production company that is leading a revival of family-
      oriented films.

      "There isn't a single person in the history of Los Angeles that has
      put more of his own money into this city," said developer Steve
      Soboroff, a onetime advisor to former Mayor Richard Riordan. "My
      feeling is we should rename the Harbor Freeway the Anschutz Freeway."

      With an estimated net worth of $7.2 billion, Anschutz ranks No. 28
      on Forbes' list of the richest people in America. Over the last four
      decades, he has amassed a global empire of more than 100 companies,
      nearly all of them privately held. In addition to oil and gas, real
      estate, movies and sports, his enterprises are active in railroads,
      telecommunications, agriculture, live entertainment, art and

      Preeminent among the firms is Anschutz Entertainment Group, which
      began operating in Los Angeles in 1995 as Anschutz Properties Co.
      with the purchase of the bankrupt L.A. Kings hockey team. AEG now
      has 50 subsidiaries worldwide, 3,000 employees and annual revenues
      approaching $1 billion. It develops major sports and concert venues
      in the U.S. and Europe and is the nation's second-largest promoter
      of live entertainment, with recent tours starring Paul McCartney,
      Kenny Chesney and Prince.

      Acquaintances describe Anschutz, 66, as brilliant, stubborn and

      "He's deeply religious, a man of high integrity and great
      character," said Los Angeles Unified schools Supt. Roy Romer, a
      friend of Anschutz from his three terms as Colorado governor.

      Like many aggressive businessmen, Anschutz also has acquired his
      share of adversaries. His litigation record reveals a sharp-elbowed
      tycoon willing to pay to make disputes go away and to keep his
      public image intact.

      During the last three decades Anschutz has paid cash settlements —
      all of them confidential — to companies that claimed they were
      denied their fair share of profits or were done in by deceptive
      business practices, according to interviews and courthouse documents
      in California, Colorado and Wyoming.

      Among the settlements was a multimillion-dollar award to Mel Gibson,
      who alleged that the theater chain Anschutz controls cheated the
      actor's distribution company out of revenue from the hit movie "The
      Passion of the Christ."

      George Ablah, 77, a real estate magnate and fellow native Kansan,
      prevailed in a legal tussle with Anschutz over a failed oil and gas

      "He is very tough," Ablah said of Anschutz. "He thinks he is God. If
      you question him in any way, he will cut your legs out from under
      you…. He is extremely lucky with those tactics. It has worked out
      very, very well for him."

      Anschutz's Denver-based spokesman, Jim Monaghan, declined to discuss
      the litigation, saying only that the number of suits against
      Anschutz and his companies is "remarkably small" for such a large
      organization. He also said that a settlement is not an admission of

      Anschutz shuns publicity and declined numerous requests to be
      interviewed for this article. According to Monaghan, Anschutz's last
      extensive on-the-record interview took place in 1974.

      Occasionally, Anschutz speaks to the media, but insists on not being
      quoted. He chatted with this reporter in December at a London movie
      premiere but insisted that the bland exchange be off the record.

      Despite his wealth and ambition, Anschutz is barely visible in
      Southern California. He flies to Los Angeles about once a month
      aboard his jet, stays in a Beverly Hills hotel and spends weekends
      at a residence in the Palm Springs area.

      With no entourage, no personal office and not even a reserved
      parking space in Los Angeles, he goes out of his way to remain
      anonymous. Friends say he enjoys jogging alone or buying a hot dog
      at Staples Center without being recognized.

      Perhaps not since Howard Hughes has a multibillionaire with such a
      big stake in Hollywood been so secretive.

      "Anschutz is an enigma," said Neil Westergaard, editor of the Denver
      Business Journal. "He is a very, very private man, which I think
      invites a lot of speculation about what his motives are."

      Philip Frederick Anschutz was born in 1939 in Great Bend, Kan.,
      attended high school in Wichita and studied economics at the
      University of Kansas. After graduation in 1961 he went to Denver to
      work for his father, wildcatter Fred B. Anschutz.

      In the 1974 interview with the State Historical Society of Colorado,
      Philip Anschutz described himself as "aggressive and hard-working."
      He recalled logging 12-hour days at the office and working evenings
      and weekends.

      "It becomes almost like alcoholism," Anschutz said. "You can't break
      the habit. You eat and drink this kind of work. I don't think there
      is anything unusual about that."

      What was unusual was Anschutz's knack for spotting bargains and
      business trends.

      "The guy is an alchemist when it comes to money," said Bob Scanlan,
      a merchant banker who has worked with Anschutz. "Phil would rank up
      there in my humorless Hall of Fame. He is just focused beyond

      He and his wife of 38 years raised two daughters and a son in Polo
      Club, a prestigious neighborhood in Denver. He bought Eagles Nest
      Ranch, a 47,000-acre spread in eastern Colorado where he keeps 2,500
      head of cattle, built a golf course and plays host to a dove-hunting
      retreat each year for friends, chief executives and politicians.

      Since 2000, Anschutz, his wife and his companies have made more than
      $1 million in political donations, mostly to Republican candidates
      and campaigns. He has spent millions assembling one of the nation's
      finest collections of western art.

      Yet Anschutz shuns many of the traditional trappings of wealth. For
      years, he wore a Timex and drove an old Buick before buying a used
      Lexus sedan. He has been spotted in a tuxedo behind the wheel of a
      rented Ford Taurus en route to a Hollywood premiere.

      Admirers call Anschutz modest and soft-spoken. He rarely cusses or
      consumes alcohol. His one known vice: chomping unlighted cigars.

      Tim Leiweke, AEG's chief executive and Anschutz's point man in Los
      Angeles, said: "He is to a fault extremely quiet because seldom is
      he comfortable being in the limelight. Phil has nothing to hide.
      This is a guy who at the end of the day likes to be private and has
      no ego."

      University of Denver Chairman Dan Ritchie has been a friend for
      decades. He said Anschutz lives by "the code of the West": Be tough
      but fair. Operate on a handshake. Talk less and say more. Never
      quit. Don't promote yourself.

      Anschutz's religious beliefs have been scrutinized, especially
      within the movie business, because he is regarded as a moral
      conservative who has invested heavily in films that appeal to
      families and Christians.

      Although Anschutz and his wife have worshiped at an Evangelical
      Presbyterian church in suburban Denver, they no longer do so,
      according to Monaghan. He said that Anschutz considers
      himself "spiritual" and now attends services at churches of various
      denominations. When in Southern California, friends say, he prefers
      spending occasional Sunday mornings on the golf course.

      His Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures produced "The Chronicles
      of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," a Christian
      allegory about the resurrection. "Narnia" is Disney's highest-
      grossing live-action film, with nearly $1 billion in box-office and
      DVD revenues.

      Douglas Gresham, a co-producer of the film and the stepson
      of "Narnia" author C.S. Lewis, told The Times that he selected
      Walden to make the movie because of his regard for Anschutz.

      "I believe he's a man of faith, probably someone who's had some
      realizations in his life and is trying to carry them out," he said.

      Anschutz has spent about $23 million over the last decade on a pair
      of nonprofit groups to promote positive values. His Random Acts of
      Kindness Foundation is dedicated to inspiring generosity, and the
      Foundation for a Better Life was established to "help make the world
      a better place for everyone."

      According to an analysis of federal tax returns, the Anschutz
      Foundation donated nearly $110 million from 1998 to 2004, with about
      80% of the money going to nonprofit organizations in Colorado.

      In Los Angeles, Anschutz has rejected requests to support museums,
      hospitals and universities in a meaningful way, according to civic
      leaders. The tax records show that his foundation has given $1.9
      million — or less than 2% of total grants — to charities in Los
      Angeles County.

      "He has a great vision for the future of Los Angeles," said Eli
      Broad, the philanthropist who is spearheading the $1.8-billion Grand
      Avenue development on Bunker Hill. "I give him credit for that. I
      wish he would become more engaged in our various cultural

      Leiweke says such criticism is unfair.

      "He is very uninvolved in L.A.," Leiweke said. "He is a substantial
      giver in Denver, as he should be."

      Anschutz also contributes locally through several AEG foundations,
      which report giving $11 million during the last decade. With the
      exception of a $1-million gift to Walt Disney Concert Hall, the bulk
      of the money went to education, public safety and community programs.

      These donations are focused on assisting immigrant communities in
      the neighborhood surrounding Staples Center as part of a campaign to
      support "the have-nots," Leiweke said.

      "We understand people get mad at us because we're not a huge giver
      to the opera or museums," Leiweke said from his downtown
      office. "There are a lot of needs we have to try to figure out down
      here. We're very prickly about people who say we don't give to the
      community. We just don't give in ways they want us to give…. Shame
      on them."

      Oil and Gas

      On Oct. 9, 1967, Anschutz encountered the first of three business
      disasters that would ultimately define him as a master of

      He was awakened at 2 a.m. after a well in which he owned a one-
      eighth interest blew out near Gillette, Wyo. Anschutz, then 27, and
      his chief geologist landed in Gillette in a rented aircraft about 5

      Many details of Anschutz's account — taken from his taped interview
      with the Colorado Historical Society — could not be independently
      verified. Several participants are now dead and others were

      As they got within a mile of the site, Anschutz and his geologist
      could see oil spewing over the drilling rig. That was a problem, but
      it also meant the well had hit pay dirt.

      In the next several hours, Anschutz raced around town contacting
      landowners and acquiring options on adjoining oil leases.

      "I had a lot of concern as to how I was going to pay for the leases
      that I'd bought since I didn't have any money at that time,"
      Anschutz said.

      While his crews labored through the night trying to cap the well,
      Anschutz flew back to Denver. Upon returning to his apartment, he
      watched a report on the evening news of an explosion and fire at the
      scene of his rig. A spark from a pump truck engine had ignited the

      The next morning, Anschutz talked the legendary Paul "Red" Adair of
      Houston into sending a crew to extinguish the blaze. He then flew to
      Casper, Wyo., to meet one of his oil partners.

      Anschutz wanted to buy out partner Jeff Hawks. It took seven hours
      of haggling, lubricated with shots of whiskey, before the two men
      cut a deal: Anschutz would pay all costs related to the fire —
      potentially millions of dollars. In return, Hawks would turn over
      his one-eighth interest in the well. The terms were scrawled on a
      white tablecloth, which for years hung on Anschutz's office wall.

      After flying out of Casper in the middle of the night, Anschutz
      spotted flames shooting hundreds of feet into the red Wyoming sky.

      "I thought, 'My God, this is the end. I'll never be able to overcome
      all this.' "

      While Adair's crew fought the fire for more than a week, Anschutz
      recruited investors to purchase shares of the rights he had acquired
      from Hawks as well as the lease options. He then persuaded Universal
      Studios, which at the time was preparing to film "Hellfighters" with
      John Wayne, to pay about $100,000 for the rights to film Adair's
      crew putting out the inferno.

      "I subsequently made a lot of money off the oil," Anschutz
      said. "There's always a point that if you go forward you win,
      sometimes you win it all, and if you go back you lose everything,
      and that was that point for me."

      By the mid-1970s, Anschutz's company had expanded to about 500
      employees and $100 million in annual sales.

      In 1979, a massive oil and gas reservoir was discovered on Anschutz
      Ranch East, a field straddling the Wyoming-Utah border. Three years
      later, shortly before the collapse of global petroleum prices,
      Anschutz sold a one-half interest in his mineral rights to Mobil
      Corp. for $500 million. The deal, combined with his existing assets,
      made Anschutz, at 43, the youngest billionaire on Forbes' list.

      He went on to explore oil and gas around the world. One of his oil
      companies also built the Pacific Pipeline after a seven-year legal
      battle with the Los Angeles City Council. The line, completed in
      1999, carries up to 130,000 barrels of heated crude oil per day from
      Kern County to refineries in El Segundo and Wilmington.

      Like many oilmen, Anschutz took on partners to spread the risk of
      developing new fields. One of them was Ablah, the Wichita real
      estate baron.

      The Little George Oil Co. — named for Ablah's diminutive stature —
      and the Anschutz Corp. entered into a partnership in 1985 to explore
      undeveloped oil and gas leases in Idaho. But after several deep
      holes turned up dry, the venture went bust.

      Ablah had paid $14.5 million upfront. Anschutz sued him in 1989,
      saying Ablah owed him an additional $2 million plus $900,000 in

      Ablah countersued, contending in court papers that he had "relied
      upon the truthfulness and integrity of Philip Anschutz." Ablah
      claimed that Anschutz had withheld information that the exploratory
      wells were extremely high-risk.

      "He had suckered me," Ablah said. "I'm a big boy. I didn't deserve
      the $14 million back." But when Anschutz demanded more, Ablah said,
      he lost respect for the Denver billionaire.

      "He didn't quite treat me fair, and he wasn't quite honest," Ablah

      The case went to trial July 24, 1990, in Denver District Court. On
      the first day, Anschutz testified that he had warned Ablah many
      times that the project was "a 1,000-to-1 shot."

      The next morning, the Denver Post carried a front-page photo of the
      rarely seen Anschutz rushing from the courtroom.

      Before taking the stand that day, Anschutz made Ablah a surprise
      settlement offer, and the case was dismissed. The terms were
      confidential, but a copy of the settlement obtained by The Times
      shows that Anschutz dropped his demands and paid Ablah $750,000 for
      his drilling rights.

      "Who was right and who was wrong meant less to him than his loss of
      privacy," spokesman Monaghan said. He added that several factors led
      Anschutz to settle, including disruption to his business, the cost
      of litigation and unwanted media attention.

      The Ablah lawsuit was not the first or last time Anschutz paid off
      claims brought by oil partners.

      In 1975, a Denver-based petroleum firm that lent Anschutz $540,000
      as part of an exploration deal in Pakistan claimed that he failed to
      repay the money. The company sued and, in a settlement, recovered
      most of the funds.

      In other cases, Anschutz was ordered to pay back a $20-million loan
      to a pipeline company and $33.5 million in royalties to Amoco Oil
      and other owners in 1994 as part of the Anschutz Ranch East

      Anschutz also tangled with Amoco over whether his firm owed $625,695
      to settle claims from a 1989 explosion and fire at a gas processing
      plant that killed a contractor and injured 11 workers. Anschutz
      eventually paid, say sources familiar with the outcome, but not
      before Amoco characterized their dealings in a court complaint.

      "Over the past eight years, Anschutz has employed a myriad of stall
      tactics to delay certain substantial payments in other settings,"
      wrote Amoco attorney Timothy Beyer in June 1993. "Its position has
      been to baldly refuse to pay its obligations…. "


      Anschutz amassed one of the largest fortunes in the modern history
      of the railroad business.

      He saw an opening when the U.S. government deregulated the railroads
      in the 1980s. Anschutz believed that a consolidation of
      transcontinental lines was inevitable, and he wanted a piece of the

      In 1984, he bought Rio Grande Industries, parent of the ailing
      Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, for $500 million. Anschutz
      paid $90 million in cash and borrowed the rest. Four years later, he
      merged it with San Francisco-based Southern Pacific Transportation
      Co. for about $1 billion, most of it borrowed. He also assumed $780
      million in Southern Pacific debt.

      Southern Pacific was nicknamed the "Sluggish Pacific" because it was
      hemorrhaging cash and saddled with aging locomotives. Shortly after
      the merger, the railroad giant was losing $400,000 a day.

      It marked the second crisis in Anschutz's business career.

      "Everyone thought he would eventually bleed to death," Leiweke
      said. "He bled a lot … but he turned it into something."

      To stave off bankruptcy, Anschutz sold a slice of the merged
      railroad to a Japanese shipping line, invested in new equipment and
      generated $2.2 billion by selling hundreds of parcels of surplus
      real estate.

      The properties included downtown L.A.'s Union Station and 177 miles
      of rail lines that now carry commuter trains to Los Angeles from
      Orange County, San Bernardino, Simi Valley and Santa Clarita.

      One of the most sought-after assets was the Southern Pacific line
      along Alameda Street. The cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles
      needed the right-of-way to build the Alameda Corridor, a high-speed
      20-mile cargo expressway connecting their ports to downtown rail

      Steve Dillenbeck, then the director of the Port of Long Beach,
      recalled the first time that local officials met Anschutz over lunch
      near Pershing Square. After everyone was seated, Anschutz walked in
      sporting a large silver belt buckle.

      "He didn't say a heck of a lot," Dillenbeck said. "It was staged
      very much to show that he is a little extraordinary."

      The officials at the table nearly choked on Anschutz's initial
      demand: $500 million.

      "It is incomprehensible that he would even think we would pay that
      amount," Dillenbeck said. "For $500 million, we could have bought
      the whole railroad."

      The price tag eventually was whittled to $240 million. The final
      cost of the Alameda Corridor was $2.4 billion, making it the
      county's most expensive public works project.

      In 1996, Anschutz negotiated a $5.4-billion merger with Union
      Pacific that made him the largest shareholder of the nation's
      biggest railroad. Anschutz had parlayed an initial $90-million
      investment in the Rio Grande into a $1.2-billion stake in the Union


      Before the merger, Anschutz took control of an obscure Southern
      Pacific subsidiary that he thought had great potential. Along with
      billions in new wealth, it would create a third business crisis: one
      of the biggest corporate accounting scandals in recent years.

      The subsidiary was Southern Pacific Telecom, which provided high-
      speed data transmission through a network of fiber-optic cable lines
      installed alongside railroad tracks. He assumed 100% ownership of
      the company, relocated it to Denver and changed its name to Qwest.

      Anschutz took the company public in 1997, and it became one of the
      nation's largest telecommunications firms. At the height of the
      telecom boom in March 2000, Qwest shares traded at $64.80, and
      Anschutz's net worth rose to $18 billion — vaulting him to sixth on
      Forbes' list of richest Americans.

      Qwest shares plunged to $1.11 in August 2002 amid an industrywide
      collapse caused by excess broadband capacity and reports that
      company executives had engaged in a massive accounting fraud.

      Four former Qwest executives have pleaded guilty to federal charges,
      including wire fraud, falsifying documents and insider trading.
      Anschutz's hand-picked chief executive, Joseph Nacchio, was indicted
      in December on 42 counts of insider trading after selling $101
      million in stock. Nacchio, who is awaiting trial, has insisted he
      did nothing wrong.

      Qwest lost an estimated $94 billion in shareholder value and slashed
      more than 23,000 jobs after its merger with telephone giant US West.

      Last year, Qwest agreed to pay $250 million to settle Securities and
      Exchange Commission charges of booking $2.5 billion in phony
      revenues. It also agreed to pay $400 million to resolve a
      shareholders' lawsuit, leaving investors to recover only a fraction
      of their losses.

      Anschutz attracted special scrutiny from government prosecutors and
      plaintiffs' lawyers because of his role as Qwest's founder, largest
      shareholder and "non-executive" chairman of the board.

      According to SEC filings, Anschutz sold about $2 billion in shares
      from 1998 to May 2001, a month before Morgan Stanley analysts
      questioned Qwest's accounting methods. But, by holding on to 301
      million shares — or 80% of his stock — Anschutz's portfolio lost an
      estimated $10 billion in market value.

      The California State Teachers' Retirement System, the third-largest
      pension fund in the nation, lost $150 million investing in Qwest.
      The group alleges in a lawsuit that Anschutz, Nacchio and
      others "engaged in a scheme to falsely inflate Qwest's revenues and
      decrease its expenses so that Qwest would appear more profitable
      than it actually was." The case is expected to go to trial early
      next year in San Francisco.

      Anschutz has maintained that he was unaware of any improprieties.

      Nacchio testified under oath before Congress in 2002 that Anschutz
      was "very involved" in Qwest's activities.

      "Phil Anschutz and I were close friends for 5 1/2 years," Nacchio
      said. "I spoke to Phil two to three times a week. Every major
      decision I made at this firm I sought his counsel."

      But separate inquiries by the U.S. Department of Justice, the SEC
      and Congress found no evidence that Anschutz exercised day-to-day
      management authority or had insider stock information. Attorneys
      representing Qwest shareholders examined nearly 9 million pages of
      documents without finding anything implicating Anschutz.

      "We looked at him very hard because he sold billions of dollars'
      worth of stock," said Patrick Coughlin, a partner in the San Diego
      law firm that brought the major shareholders' suit. "His initials
      aren't on anything. His signatures aren't on anything."

      According to court records in San Mateo County, Anschutz does not
      have an office computer or e-mail account and routinely destroys his
      appointment calendars. In addition, all e-mail messages sent through
      Anschutz's secretary and all electronic calendar entries are
      permanently destroyed.

      His spokesman said Anschutz is not secretive but simply old-school:
      He dictates memos to his secretary and does not carry a cellphone.

      Anschutz reached a settlement in May 2003 with New York state Atty.
      Gen. Eliot Spitzer on charges that he had improperly
      received "nearly risk-free" initial public offering shares in
      exchange for steering investment banking business to Salomon Smith
      Barney. Anschutz made $4.8 million from the IPOs.

      Spitzer also sought to recover $1.4 billion in Anschutz profits from
      the sale of Qwest shares that allegedly were inflated by overly
      optimistic research reports. Anschutz settled the case for $4.4
      million in contributions to New York law schools and nonprofit

      Anschutz's company issued a statement saying the settlement "very
      clearly reflects" no wrongdoing.

      But Spitzer's office holds a different view.

      "If Mr. Anschutz was as innocent in his business dealings as he
      claims to be, then a trial would have been the perfect venue to
      prove that," said spokesman Marc Violette. "The fact that he settled
      this case for $4.4 million speaks volumes."

      Since last fall, Qwest stock has rebounded to $7.85 a share,
      increasing the value of Anschutz's investment to $2.3 billion. In
      recent weeks, Anschutz and his family trust have entered into
      several complex stock trades that netted about $380 million from
      Qwest shares.

      Such transactions continue to gall former employees who lost their
      pensions and retirement savings.

      Paula Smith, 56, a Denver mother of two teenagers, said she faces
      the prospect of working "until the day I die" after losing nearly
      $240,000 in retirement savings and $220,000 in the value of her
      Qwest stock.

      Smith was hired as a technical writer for Mountain Bell in 1980 and
      took a buy-out in June 2001 — exactly one year after Qwest acquired
      the company.

      It infuriates her that Anschutz has moved on to make spiritual films
      laced with moral messages.

      "The thing I resent most about Anschutz is that he never steps up to
      the plate and holds himself accountable," Smith said. "Funding 'The
      Chronicles of Narnia' is not going to exonerate him in the eyes of
      the Lord."


      Anschutz began building a Southern California business empire by
      acquiring a bankrupt hockey franchise.

      He viewed the cash-strapped L.A. Kings as the key to unlocking a
      bigger prize, namely the building of a sports arena that would
      anchor a sprawling downtown redevelopment plan. And he already had a
      blueprint in hand — one, ironically, that had been rejected in his

      In 1987, Anschutz proposed a stylish convention center on about 35
      acres of railroad property he owned near downtown Denver, but lost
      out to a competing bid.

      In 1995, Anschutz and Los Angeles real estate investor Ed Roski Jr.
      paid $113 million for the Kings. The purchase revived Anschutz's
      dream of rejuvenating a major downtown, only this time in Los

      Two years later, Los Angeles city officials approved locating
      Staples Center at 11th and Figueroa streets. By then, Anschutz and
      Roski had become minority owners in the Lakers basketball team,
      which made the new arena home when it opened in 1999.

      As part of the agreement with the city, Anschutz took control of 30
      nearby acres. He paid more than $18 million for the land and
      obtained $58 million from city bonds — to be repaid with interest —
      and $12 million in redevelopment grants.

      L.A. Live, Anschutz's sports-entertainment complex, is now under
      construction across from Staples Center. The first phase will open
      next year. Last month, AEG unveiled plans for a 1,000-room hotel
      complex that includes a five-star Ritz-Carlton and a four-star
      Marriott Marquis topped by 216 luxury condos.

      The $750-million project, rising 54 stories above downtown,
      attracted controversy last year when the Los Angeles City Council
      approved up to $290 million in rebates of hotel taxes during the
      next 25 years.

      Although the Kings have lost more than $125 million under Anschutz,
      his Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment juggernaut keeps
      rolling in profits.

      Staples Center is widely regarded as the most successful arena
      anywhere. Home to five professional sports franchises — basketball's
      Lakers, Clippers and Sparks; hockey's Kings; and arena football's
      Avengers — Staples books an average of 240 events annually,
      sometimes two a day. About 4.5 million people pass through its
      turnstiles every year. Anschutz aims to triple the number of
      visitors to his downtown complex by 2010.

      Anschutz owns a total of 14 sports franchises in the U.S. and
      Europe. His company is pouring $1 billion into an ambitious
      entertainment district on the banks of the Thames River in London.

      The development, which includes a 23,000-seat concert arena, is
      similar to Anschutz's L.A. Live, with one notable exception: Lacking
      a premier anchor tenant, the project is relying on a proposed casino

      Competition for the one available mega-casino license in Britain has
      ensnared Anschutz in a political controversy. The British media
      reported this month that Anschutz had met Prescott, the deputy prime
      minister, on at least seven occasions since August 2002, including
      the soccer match at Home Depot Center.

      An inquiry by a parliamentary committee concluded Friday that
      Prescott violated ethics rules by not disclosing a two-night stay
      last July at Anschutz's ranch until after it was revealed by British
      newspapers nearly a year later. The committee said no action should
      be taken against Prescott, who has denied that Anschutz sought to
      influence him on the casino license.

      Five of Anschutz's sports franchises are soccer teams. He became
      attracted to the game in 1994 while watching a World Cup match at
      the Rose Bowl. Two years later, he launched the Colorado Rapids as
      part of the inaugural Major League Soccer season.

      Ignoring the sport's many skeptics, Anschutz believed that pro
      soccer could become a viable business in the U.S. By 2002, Anschutz
      controlled six of the league's 10 teams, with franchises in Los
      Angeles, Chicago, Denver, New York, San Jose and Washington, D.C.

      Part of his strategy to make the league profitable is building
      soccer-specific stadiums. Home Depot Center, which opened in 2003,
      is the home of two MLS teams — the Galaxy and Chivas USA — and is an
      official U.S. Olympic training site for cycling, soccer and track
      and field. Last month, AEG opened Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.,
      for the Chicago Fire.

      Last year, the Galaxy became the league's first team to turn a
      profit. Anschutz recently sold his share of the New York franchise
      to the Red Bull energy drink company for a record $100 million. He
      is looking to sell his D.C. United team.

      In August, Anschutz will receive the National Soccer Medal of Honor,
      the sport's highest award in this country, along with a spot in the
      National Soccer Hall of Fame for creating a foothold for the sport
      in the U.S.

      "Two decades ago, people said this could never be done," said Don
      Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer. "Two decades from now,
      people will ask how it was done, and the answer will be Phil


      When Anschutz started making films in 2000, he joined a long line of
      tycoons turned movie moguls — William Randolph Hearst, Howard
      Hughes, Marvin Davis, Ted Turner and Richard Branson, to name a few.
      By doing so, he ignored the old saw that the fastest way for a
      billionaire to become a millionaire is to invest in the film

      "Phil is different," said Ritchie, his friend. "He is concerned the
      country is losing its compass. He wants to express traditional
      American values in an appealing way for young people."

      According to an early mission statement drafted by Anschutz, the
      focus of his Hollywood operation is on historical, sports and
      adventure films for general audiences. "We believe that gratuitous
      violence, use of drugs and smoking, sex and profanity will obscure
      the positive message we wish to impart and compromise the
      entertainment and commercial value of our projects."

      In a rare speech to a leadership seminar in February 2004, Anschutz
      said he expects his films "to be life-affirming and to carry moral
      messages." He also conceded that "no one with any sense" would
      invest in movies.

      "My friends think I'm a candidate for a lobotomy, and my competitors
      think I'm naive or stupid or both. But you know what? I don't care.
      If we can make some movies that have a positive effect on people's
      lives and on our culture, that's enough for me."

      Still, Anschutz's movie company doesn't approve a project "unless we
      believe it will be profitable," said David Weil, chief executive of
      Anschutz Film Group. Riding the success of "The Chronicles of
      Narnia," Anschutz's film operation turned a profit last year, Weil

      Anschutz "does get very excited about what we do on occasion because
      it is exhilarating to reach people in a very positive way that is
      much more direct than operating an oil well or a railroad," Weil

      In addition to his production company, Anschutz controls 81.5% of
      the voting shares of the nation's largest chain of movie theaters.
      He created Regal Entertainment Group in 2002 by merging Edwards
      Theaters, Regal Cinemas and United Artists Theaters.

      Anschutz and a Los Angeles investment firm, Oaktree Capital
      Management, paid about $500 million to cover the loans of the three
      bankrupt theater companies. Today, Regal operates nearly 6,400
      screens in 40 states. The company issued extraordinary dividends to
      shareholders in 2003 and 2004 that netted Anschutz a combined $741

      In 2003, Anschutz was sought out by Mel Gibson, who was looking for
      an exhibitor for his controversial "The Passion of the Christ." At
      Gibson's invitation, Anschutz saw an advance private screening of
      the film in Santa Monica. He was so moved by the drama depicting the
      Crucifixion that he took the unusual step of urging Regal's chief
      executive to see the film, according to court records.

      "The Passion of the Christ" became the top-grossing R-rated film.
      Strong first-quarter profits in 2004, aided by the success of "The
      Passion of the Christ," enabled Regal to issue the second
      extraordinary dividend.

      But Regal allegedly reneged on a commitment to pay Gibson's Icon
      Distribution Inc. "studio terms," or 55% of box-office revenues,
      according to a lawsuit filed by Gibson's company to recover more
      than $40 million.

      "It was outrageous," said George Hedges, a Los Angeles lawyer who
      represents Gibson. "These guys paid themselves an extraordinary
      dividend, but they were unwilling to pay Mel what he was owed."

      In court papers, Regal argued that it had agreed to pay Gibson's
      firm 34% of proceeds.

      Testimony in the case disclosed that Anschutz's theater group
      charged church groups a $500 "worship price" on top of the normal
      admission to attend special screenings of "The Passion of the
      Christ." Regal routinely levies an administration fee to cover
      marketing and overhead costs for private screenings.

      Gibson became so upset that he ordered his company to issue more
      than $500,000 in refunds to churches and Christian groups.

      "Icon was shocked and disappointed that this additional fee (which
      was never reported to us) was being charged to faith-based
      organizations," Icon wrote in a letter accompanying the refunds.

      Anschutz was unaware that Regal tacked on a "worship price," said
      Mike Campbell, the company's chief executive. He added that Anschutz
      played no role in negotiating the deal to exhibit the film.

      Regal and Icon reached a confidential settlement in March of last
      year. Regal reported in an SEC filing that the settlement "will
      reduce previously reported net income by $8.3 million." That amount
      is far less than what Regal actually paid, according to
      knowledgeable sources.


      On April 4, Anschutz and Florence Fang were honored by UC Berkeley
      Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and other top university officials for
      donating the San Francisco Examiner's archives to the school's
      Bancroft Library.

      During the ceremony, speakers took turns praising Anschutz, the new
      owner of the Examiner, for his generosity. But no mention was made
      that the gift's origin stemmed from a bitter lawsuit between
      Anschutz and the Fang family.

      Anschutz bought the Examiner from the Fangs in 2004, launching him
      into the newspaper business. He has since begun new papers in
      Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, where he competes with the Sun, a
      paper owned by the Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times.
      Further expansion appears in the works: Anschutz owns rights to the
      Examiner name in more than 65 cities, including Los Angeles, and has
      registered the domain name losangelesexaminer.com.

      His advisors say the small chain represents the kind of
      underappreciated asset that fits Anschutz's portfolio. His strategy
      is to grow circulation and attract advertisers by concentrating on
      local news and providing free home delivery to upper-income

      The Fangs' lawsuit claimed that Anschutz and his advisors conspired
      with an Examiner executive to acquire the paper at a depressed
      price. The suit sought to overturn the sale, along with $11 million
      in damages.

      Once again, he found a way to turn a potential liability into a
      financial gain.

      Court records show that Anschutz hired former Denver Post Publisher
      Ryan McKibben as a consultant in 2003 to help acquire the Examiner.
      His brother, P. Scott McKibben, was then the Examiner publisher and
      had been asked by the Fangs to find a buyer for the money-losing

      The Fangs alleged in court papers that the McKibben brothers tilted
      the sale in favor of Anschutz. They contended that Scott McKibben
      leaked confidential information to the Anschutz organization and
      failed to market the newspaper to other potential buyers.

      According to internal memos, Anschutz played an active role in the

      In one memo, two senior Anschutz executives were assigned "to handle
      primary negotiations" with Scott McKibben "based on PFA direction."
      Anschutz's initials are PFA.

      PFA also was listed as receiving "regular updates" from the two
      executives. A "timetable" memo lists a meeting between Anschutz and
      Scott McKibben six weeks before the sale.

      Two days before the deal closed, Anschutz's executives demanded the
      family include the paper's archives at no additional cost, said E.
      Robert Wallach, the Fangs' attorney.

      After the sale, Anschutz retained Scott McKibben as publisher of the
      Examiner, paying him a $420,000 salary with a $180,000 bonus and a
      country club membership, court records show. He also named Ryan
      McKibben chief executive of Clarity Media Group, his newspaper
      holding company.

      Both McKibbens said in separate interviews that the Fangs'
      allegations were unfounded. Monaghan suggested that the litigation
      stemmed from "a bad case of seller's remorse."

      News organizations reported that Anschutz paid $20 million. But a
      copy of the sale agreement obtained by The Times shows that Anschutz
      paid $10.7 million for the Examiner, the Independent newspapers, a
      printing business and other assets.

      Wallach said that, during a break in a sworn deposition in August,
      he appealed to Anschutz to settle the case. The lawyer said he told
      Anschutz that taking the archives was "just not right" and that he
      risked losing a big jury verdict.

      Anschutz agreed that day to a confidential settlement, which
      included a provision to destroy his deposition testimony. According
      to sources familiar with the deal, Anschutz consented to several
      demands made by the Fang family, including donating the archives in
      the name of Florence Fang to UC Berkeley.

      "If Anschutz had not been a man of integrity and a good businessman,
      it would not have happened," Wallach said.

      Still, Anschutz figures to cash in. By donating the archives, his
      company is eligible for a substantial tax deduction. The precise
      amount could not be confirmed, but a copy of an independent
      appraisal obtained by the Examiner in November 2004 offers a clue.

      The archives were assessed at $18.4 million — more than what
      Anschutz paid for the entire newspaper.

      Researcher Maloy Moore contributed to this report.

      Bunting can be reached at glenn.bunting@... or (213) 237-


      Anschutz's L.A.

      Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz has become a major economic force
      in Southern California. He owns sports teams and arenas, promotes
      concerts and art exhibits, operates a Hollywood film company and is
      building a sprawling sports and entertainment district in downtown
      Los Angeles. An overview of his local business interests:


      STAPLES CENTER: The arena, which Anschutz built in 1999, is home to
      five professional sports teams, including the Lakers and Clippers of
      the National Basketball Assn. About 4.5 million people pass through
      its turnstiles every year. Anschutz envisioned the $400-million
      arena as the centerpiece of a revitalized downtown.


      In 2002, Anschutz created Regal Entertainment Group by merging three
      bankrupt theater chains. Today, Regal is the nation's largest chain,
      with nearly 6,400 screens in 40 states.

      *L.A. LIVE

      The sports-entertainment district is under construction across from
      Staples Center. A live theater will open next year, and restaurants
      and nightclubs in 2008.


      In February, Anschutz Entertainment Group inaugurated an eight-day,
      600-mile professional cycling race from San Francisco to Redondo


      The complex, which opened in 2003, is home to two pro soccer teams,
      the Galaxy and Chivas USA. It is also a U.S. Olympic training site
      for cycling, soccer as well as track and field.


      His film group's family-friendly movies include "The Chronicles of
      Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005). The Christian
      allegory was Anschutz's first blockbuster hit.
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