Most Oklahomans probably know little about the soon-to-be new owner of OPUBCO, which includes The Oklahoman, but there is a good chance they may have viewed a movie in one of his theaters, watched his professional sports teams on television or eaten at a national park restaurant operated by one of his companies.
The Anschutz Corp., a company owned by Denver businessman Philip Anschutz, has agreed to purchase The Oklahoma Publishing Co., with the deal scheduled to close in early October.
“Phil Anschutz is one of America's most capable, accomplished and respected businessmen,” said Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO and co-founder Aubrey K. McClendon, who recently was involved in an oil and gas deal with Anschutz. “Chesapeake acquired $850 million of oil and gas properties from Phil last year, and he was terrific to work with, and I think all Oklahomans can be very comfortable and grateful that Phil is the new owner of OPUBCO.
“The only issue I have with Phil is his partial ownership of the Lakers — we will have to have some further conversations about that,” quipped McClendon, part-owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While McClendon knows Anschutz personally, the 71-year-old marathon runner is much more of a mystery to most Oklahomans because of his reputation for not seeking publicity.
Anschutz's preference for personal privacy, however, stands in stark contrast with the nature of his worldwide business interests, many of which thrive by catering to huge crowds.
The Anschutz Corp. is the majority shareholder of Regal Entertainment Group, which operates the largest and most geographically diverse movie theater circuit in the country, consisting of 6,623 screens in 530 theaters in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Through its subsidiary, Anschutz Entertainment Group, or AEG, Anschutz owns the Los Angeles Kings, a National Hockey League team, and has a minority interest in the Los Angeles Lakers.
He was co-founder of Major League Soccer and currently owns two MLS teams, the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo.
Other sports assets include several European hockey teams, a Swedish soccer club and interests in professional lacrosse, tennis, boxing and cycling.
Through AEG, Anschutz is the largest owner and operator of sports and entertainment venues in the world.
His holdings include the Staples Center in Los Angeles; the world-class O2 Arena in London; Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.; and the Nokia Theatre Times Square in New York. He owns or operates other arenas and sports facilities in dozens of U.S. cities, as well as several foreign countries.
Anyone who has visited very many national parks likely has been a customer of his businesses. The Anschutz Corp. owns Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operates concessionaire businesses that include lodging, food, retail and other facilities at the Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Zion, Death Valley, Petrified Forest and Crater Lake national parks. It operates similar businesses at seven state parks and an Ohio marina.
Anschutz's company entered the railroad business in 1984 with its purchase of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad. Later the company purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad, which merged into the Union Pacific Railroad. He currently owns a small interest in Union Pacific, less than 5 percent.
Newspaper holdings include the San Francisco Examiner and Washington Examiner. He also owns The Weekly Standard magazine, which focuses on national politics. Anschutz owns them through Clarity Media Group.
He also owns Examiner.com, one of the fastest-growing social networking and local news and information sites, where local subject-matter experts post a wide array of information in hundreds of markets throughout the United States and Canada.
People who know Anschutz say family values are important to him, and those values are reflected in motion picture projects he produces through the Anschutz Film Group.
Walden Media, one of the group's divisions, acquired the film rights to the C.S. Lewis series “The Chronicles of Narnia” and has so far produced “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” “Prince Caspian,” and “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
Another film division, Bristol Bay Productions, produced “Ray,” a movie about the life of singer Ray Charles.
Many of Anschutz's interests parallel those of Oklahomans.
Anschutz loves Western art and has an extensive collection that includes works by the Western Masters — Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and Thom
He will be adding to that collection with the purchase of OPUBCO, because an extensive art collection by the Western Masters is part of the deal.
Anschutz got his business start in the oil and gas industry and has extensive holdings in various parts of the U.S. through Anschutz Exploration Corp., an independent oil and gas exploration company.
Wind energy has become big business in recent years, and Anschutz has business interests in that arena, as well, through The Anschutz Corp.'s ownership of Power Company of Wyoming LLC and TransWest Express LLC.
Power Company of Wyoming is developing an approximately 2,500-megawatt wind power project on about 100,000 acres in Carbon County, Wyo.
Meanwhile, TransWest Express is developing a proposed 725-mile direct current high-voltage transmission system to move electricity from Wyoming to markets in Arizona, Nevada and California.
Anschutz has extensive ranch and farm operations in Wyoming, Colorado and Texas.
Through The Anschutz Foundation, he has also developed a reputation as a generous philanthropist.
The Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colo., and the secular Foundation for a Better Life both have been among the beneficiaries of his generosity.