Two of the largest facility operators in the world are merging, creating a joint-owned facility company with 310 venues under management including NFL stadiums like Soldier Field as well as NBA arenas, convention centers and performing arts venues in North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Earlier today AEG Facilities and Onex, owner of facility operator SMG, announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge and create a standalone global facility management company called ASM Global. Onex and AEG Facilities will each own 50% of the company, which will be headquarted in Los Angeles and will keep its SMG offfices in West Conshohocken. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.
“This is a merger of complimentary assets, complimentary geography, complimentary resources and a shared value for the live experience,” AEG Facilities president Bob Newman tells Billboard. Newman will serve as president and CEO of ASM while SMG chief executive Wes Westley joins ASM’s board of directors.
“We have the highest respect for SMG’s growth story for more than 30 years almost entirely under Wes’ leadership,” Newman says. “They have created a great company with an amazing and deep stable of fantastic employees and it’s exciting to combine that into one family.”
Newman says the merger does not include properties and entertainment districts owned by AEG in Los Angeles, London, Hamburg and Berlin, or those under development. Instead AEG Facilities’ contracts for venue development will make up AEG’s main contribution to the merger, while Onex is contributing its entire equity investment in SMG to ASM, with the deal expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
The merger with AEG ends longstanding efforts to find a permanent home for SMG, which has traded hands between several private equity funds and had been an acquistion target of the Oak View Group, Tim Leiweke’s entertainment and development company. That sale was blocked by Westley, and Live Nation reportedly kicked the tires on a possible acquistion but ultimately opted not to make the large investtment in the real estate space. In December 2017, Canadian private equity firm Onex Corp purchased SMG from Ares Capital for an undisclosed sum, and kept the company’s management structure intact with Wesley leading the firm.
“This isn’t about cost savings, it’s about combining complimentary assets to create something very special,” says Newman. “We have an amazing network of buildings around the world with plenty of opportunity to grow further. The upside is that we take both companies resources, expertise and best practices and apply them acros the entire network.”
The newly merged ASM Global has a portfolio that includes SMG clients like the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Soldier Field in Chicago and U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis with AEG buildings like Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai and Suncorp Stadium in Bribane, Australia.
“This merger is a major step for our industry,” Westley said in a statement. “We are excited to bring together these complementary businesses to further elevate the standard of excellence in venue management. We plan to accelerate innovation by combining our expertise to deliver increased value and offer enhanced capabilities to municipalities and venue owners worldwide. At the same time, we expect that this transaction will offer employees at both our corporate headquarters and field operations tremendous new opportunities.”
Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG adds “AEG Facilities has flourished under Bob’s leadership since it was established a decade ago and this combination will position ASM for growth by joining the resources and talents of these two companies. ASM will offer an impressive array of capabilities that will accelerate the development and deployment of new services and bring diverse business, sports and entertainment experiences to municipalities, partners and fans around the world.”