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After several failed attempts to sell all or part of the company last year, House of Blues is again in play.

HOB BACK ON THE BLOCK

Bidders Line Up Anew for House of Blues; Anschutz, Rosen Among the Prospective Buyers
After several failed attempts to sell all or part of the company last year, House of Blues is again in play.

Insiders say Irving Azoff is joining with Anschutz Entertainment Group honcho Tim Leiweke to purchase the cash-strapped concert promotion/venue operator and bring it into Philip Anschutz’s burgeoning concert empire. Former Ticketmaster chief Fred Rosen is also said to be sniffing around HOB’s assets.

After years of turmoil, wonderers are wondering if HOB’s primary financier, Chase Capital, is now willing to accept less than its initial $350 million asking price. Some are suggesting $250 million as a more likely figure.

According to sources, the HOB board of directors became disenchanted with former Chairman David Ferguson over his inability to sell the company. While Ferguson still has a seat on the board, HOB continues to be run by CEO Greg Trojan.

Insiders say the potential buyers are more likely to purchase HOB’s concert-promotion business only, rather than the entire company, leaving HOB with just its venues. At this point, some observers point to Rosen as having the deepest pockets in the current derby.

It is believed that HOB concert division head Jay Marciano would remain with the company under its new owners, taking on an executive role whether Anschutz or Rosen bought the company.  Anschutz recently hired industry veteran Randy Phillips to run its AEG Live division.

Both Ferguson and Trojan have been taking heat internally for some time over business decisions and botched sale negotiations. HOB has had trouble raising enough money to compete with the major players in the concert promotion business.

Last year, HOB attempted to sell its assets to SFX for a reported $450 million. It’s believed that SFX was only willing to pay about $350 million, so those talks eventually broke down.

With SFX out of the picture, HOB also talked with Anschutz and Azoff, who reportedly offered in the neighborhood of $70 million to build new venues in exchange for 50% of a new joint-venture concert-promotion company with HOB. At the time, insiders said HOB bigwigs were willing to give up 15-20% ownership of just the new venues in exchange for a $100 million investment. Needless to say, those talks broke down as well.

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