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What’s Anschutz Up To?

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According to Bloomberg News, Philip Anschutz has agreed to sell 20.6 million shares of Qwest, a company he founded, completing plans to unload nearly all of his ownership.  Qwest is the fourth-largest U.S. telephone company.

The sale will generate an initial payment of $150.5 million, according to a filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Anschutz has sold about 246.9 million shares through such contracts over the last year, lessening his role at the company he started in 1988 as SP Telecom. The contracts transfer ownership of the stock in 2009 and 2010 and will go up in value if share prices rise. He stands to make $1.5 billion in upfront payments.

So why am I posting this on The Disney Blog, other than my belief that Disney fans and shareholders should mind the world of telecom?  Primarily because Anschutz owns Walden Media, a major player in bringing about films such as Disney’s "Holes", "Around the World in 80 Days", "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", "Prince Caspian", and "Bridge to Terabithia".  It also works with other film studios, such as working with Viacom on "Charlotte’s Web".

I wonder if he’s freeing money up to expand his holdings?  He currently owns a majority of cinema company Regal Entertainment Group, and owns Anschutz Entertainment Group, which is one of the largest live events company and owns Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.  They are working on a major new development downtown, which along with Staples Center and The Walt Disney Concert Hall are part of a renewal of that area.  If that weren’t enough, he’s currently involved in a legal dispute over the film "Sahara" – the Los Angeles Times has extensive ongoing coverage here"Sahara" was directed by Breck Eisner – son of you-know-who.

It certainly is a small world.