Mogul goes House hunting

Denver-based billionaire Anschultz sets sights on HOB

Philip Anschutz may be angling to take over the House of Blues’ nightclub and events empire.

The Denver-based billionaire — who has cobbled together a growing entertainment fiefdom featuring concert promotions and arena operations as well as movie production and exhibition — already has made one offer for House of Blues. That offer was rejected, but talks recently “warmed up” again, an HOB insider revealed Thursday.

HOB Entertainment operates a chain of House of Blues music nightclubs, restaurants and hotels. The Los Angeles-based company also produces concerts and events at various venues nationwide and last year purchased Universal’s live music operations.

One report said Anschutz offered $180 million to buy HOB two months ago, but an Anschutz source claimed that figure was wrong without specifying whether it was high or low. It’s believed HOB hit a cash crunch since the original offer was made, prompting Anschutz informally to contact the company about resurrecting talks.

HOB reportedly needs a new $100 million line of credit to keep operating. HOB execs weren’t immediately available, and an Anschutz rep said the company doesn’t comment on acquisition rumors.

Anschutz already owns the Concerts West concert promotion organization and controls sports and events arenas including Los Angeles’ Staples Center. His production assets include Crusader Entertainment. In exhibition he has acquired United Artists Theaters and is angling for Edwards Theaters and Regal Cinemas.

HOB built its group of nightclubs and concert operations from an original handful of music clubs including a flagship House of Blues on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip. The company filed to go public last March but in June HOB canceled that offering over “uncertain market conditions.”

HOB is backed, in part, by former “Saturday Night Live” actor and “Blues Brothers” band member Dan Aykroyd. The original majority owner, Isaac Tigrett, sold his interest in the company.

(Justin Oppelaar in New York and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.)